New Hampshire remains on track to re-open its hockey rinks next week, and we now know what they'll need to do to reopen safely after the state's Hockey & Indoor Ice Arena Guidance plan was released Friday.
Face masks will be required for everyone inside skating facilities -- including players -- while alcohol-based sanitizers must be made readily available for everyone inside rinks, according to the guidelines.
Gov. Chris Sununu had originally paused indoor hockey and skating activities last week after over 150 cases of COVID-19 were directly connected to hockey activities. State health officials had said there was a high likelihood those cases had spread into local communities as well.
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“This new guidance will safely get folks back on the ice utilizing flexible testing protocols like non-invasive antigen options with the goal of continuing a safe, fun and healthy season,” Sununu said in a statement.
Meanwhile, Massachusetts began its own two-week pause on hockey on Friday.
New Hampshire's return-to-play plan, which will allow for rinks to re-open on Oct. 30, also requires that rink staff, coaches, players and other patrons be tested for COVID-19 by Nov. 6.
"We had to do something," Sununu said Thursday about the initial closure. "It was having a domino effect in our schools. You don't want to let it go unchecked and allow that to really go out of control, with the repercussions of not just shutting down a hockey season but shutting down an entire school."
In addition, only skaters from New England states are allowed at competitive sporting events, training sessions or practices in New Hampshire. The use of outdoor rinks is "strongly encouraged," according to the guidance.
"It's our hope we can still save the majority of the season by taking this pause," Sununu has said.
As of Friday, 10,112 people have tested positive for COVID-19 in the state, an increase of 120 from the previous day. One new death was reported, bringing the statewide total to 471.