The NHL has taken a step forward in potentially resuming the 2019-20 season by releasing its protocol for a phased return. On Monday, the league unveiled details of its Phase 2 of returning, which is said to have a target date in early June for being rolled out though officials do not have an official timeline for the phase’s start or how long it may last.
Training would gradually get underway during Phase 2, with players being allowed back into facilities for voluntary small-group workouts to be held either on or off the ice. In order to be admitted into team facilities, players traveling from other markets must undergo a 14-day quarantine period.
“As we have stated repeatedly, the health of the players and club personnel is our top priority, and that will dictate how Phase 2, and any progression thereafter, may evolve,” the league stated in its Phase 2 memorandum. “We again emphasize that player participation in Phase 2 is strictly voluntary. In addition, clubs are not permitted to require players to return to the club’s home city so they can complete a quarantine requirement in time to participate in Phase 2.”
Players and personnel will be administered COVID-19 diagnostic tests, though only “in the context of excess testing capacity, so as to not deprive health care workers, vulnerable populations and asymptomatic individuals.” However, the league insists that testing does not cancel out proper hygiene and distancing guidlines.
Additionally, those who enter facilities voluntarily will be subjected to a temperature check prior to entering. Should a temperature read higher than 99.5 degrees Fahrenheit or an individual exhibit any other symptoms, they are to contact franchise medical staff and self-isolate.
Other logistics surrounding the possible resumption of games remain unknown, including where games may be held. Commissioner Gary Bettman recently expanded on his four-arena plan to resume games and revealed that as many as nine locations could hold operations.
The season has been suspended since March 12.