Baker: ‘Youth Hockey Needs to Make Some Changes'

The governor blamed the recent shutdown on "irresponsible" parents and coaches who didn't cooperate with state contact tracers

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Massachusetts Gov. Charlie Baker shed new light Tuesday on the state’s decision last week to close indoor skating rinks for two weeks in response to an increase in cases linked to youth hockey games.

He blamed the closures on “irresponsible” parents and coaches who didn’t cooperate with state contact tracers, including some who refused to supply team rosters.

“I know the shutdown wasn't welcome news, but youth hockey needs to make some changes,” he said. "We look forward to working with them."

Massachusetts ordered the shutdown of every indoor ice skating facility in the state for two weeks on Oct. 22 in response to several COVID-19 clusters linked to ice hockey games and practices. State health officials said the pause would allow for the development of stronger COVID protocols to further protect players, families, coaches, arena staff and other participants, as well as communities surrounding hockey rinks.

Baker said the state Department of Public Health found more than 30 clusters and over 110 positive cases, 22 probable cases and 220 close contacts in 20 rinks across the state. Overall, he said 66 cities and towns were impacted.

"This is exactly why we can't afford to be careless when it comes to this insidious disease," he said.

Massachusetts Hockey released a statement reacting to the order, saying, in part, "There have been situations and areas where the Commonwealth feels compliance with the guidance has not been followed. Unfortunately, unless we are able to correct these issues, we would anticipate any further shutdown could be significantly longer than the current two weeks.”

Neighboring states including New Hampshire have enacted similar temporary restrictions regarding indoor ice hockey.

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