With more players getting vaccinated, the NHL plans to relax its COVID-19 protocols for playoff teams once 85% of a club’s traveling party has been fully vaccinated for two weeks, according to Sportsnet’s Chris Johnston.
The new protocols will reportedly allow players to gather outside of team facilities, go to outdoor restaurants and spend time in each other’s hotel rooms. Face coverings and social distancing will also no longer be required for team meetings and social gatherings and players won’t have to receive PCR testing on off days.
The changes will only take effect for teams based in the United States, Johnson says. Players on the Canadian North Division teams have begun receiving the COVID-19 vaccine, but none currently qualify for the relaxed protocols.
Johnston also says the changes could be withdrawn for multiple reasons, such as a COVID-19 outbreak or if the NHL reaches an agreement with Canada to allow cross-border travel.
The 2021 Stanley Cup Playoffs are slated to begin later this month, with the regular season set to wrap up for the North Division on May 19.