Is it safe to play hockey? USA hockey official says ‘Yes!’

Returning to the ice to play hockey may have some worried about how they’ll stay safe in the age of COVID-19, but Dr. Michael Stuart, USA Hockey’s chief medical and safety officer, says it is safe to play as long as it’s done correctly.

“Wearing masks and social distancing are new, but frequent handwashing and sanitizing surfaces, etc., are important to reduce the spread of influenza, colds and now COVID-19,” Stuart said in a USA Hockey news report. “That is the way of the future and it’s not going away.”

So, what exactly does that mean for players and the facilities in which they engage in competition?

Players need to:

  • Follow basic principles of personal hygiene, social distancing, protective equipment and a clean environment.
  • Wash your hands often, avoid touching your eyes, nose and mouth, and use personal water bottles and towels.
  • If you’re sick, don’t show up to play.
  • Avoid crowded locker rooms and be sure to maintain a distance of six feet when possible. Consider putting on and taking off skates while sitting in chairs well-spaced in the lobby or elsewhere in the facility.
  • While on the ice, avoid up-close and personal goal celebrations and post-game handshakes to limit direct contact.
  • Wear cloth-type masks in common areas; upon arrival and departure from the arena.
  • Consider wearing a full shield that can block some droplets if people sneeze or cough.

Facility management should:

  • Provide hand sanitizer on the benches, in the penalty box area and on the scorer’s table so they can clean hands during breaks in action.
  • Provide hand sanitizer in locker rooms and disinfect surfaces and equipment after each use.

Spectators need to:

  • Follow local and state guidelines.
  • Avoid assembling in large groups.
  • Avoid crowded lobbies or stands.
  • Maintain social distancing and practice good hand hygiene.
  • If you’re sick, stay home.

As players and their biggest fans return to ice rinks around the country, playing it smart and playing it safe will make all the difference.

Content provided by Elaine Veltri

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