BC Hockey Adjusts Schedule for January 8th and 9th
The decision has been made to alter several regular season games this coming weekend (January 7-9, 2022) in order to minimize BCEHL travel around the province.
This decision was determined after significant consultation and consideration that is outlined below.
The leagues’ goal for this weekend is to keep our teams as active as possible, with minimal participant travel. To this end, we are working on a schedule adjustment that will be available shortly and will update you as our plan for the upcoming weekend takes shape.
The safety of our players, participants, families and communities is our top priority.
We are in close contact with Public Health, as well as with the WHL, BCHL, CSSHL, and Hockey Canada.
The past few days have presented ever increasing risks and challenges from the rising presence of COVID-19 in the province.
Covid cases are rising, and higher case numbers means more risk of illness (and therefore potentially higher individual risk as well as a higher load on health care).
More cases means more required isolations, fewer health workers available on any given day.
More cases means higher risk each day of athletes, coaches, staff, and officials in our league becoming ill or having to isolate.
More cases means more potential illness and more isolations for workers in all industries, affecting ability to deploy officials and for transportation companies to deploy pilots, bus drivers, and other personnel needed for safe travel.
RECENT CONSIDERATIONS REGARDING HOCKEY SPECIFICALLY
The Provincial Health Office (PHO) has given direction that tournaments and showcases must be halted. It is clear that this type of provision is meant to address three main issues:
People gathering from all over the province, with mixing or athletes and families in social settings,
Gathering of a large number of people over a few days in a single location from many locations,
The increased risks of travel itself, including the risks of group travel with bussing, hotels, and group meals.
Our PHO is working with us to keep hockey going. League play is permitted. This is despite hockey mostly halted in Canada east of Manitoba, and several IIHF tournaments (including the WJC) cancelled, and with a growing list of team pauses and game cancellations in Junior and Pro Hockey.
The situation with Covid cases has changed rapidly over the past two weeks, and even in the past few days.
In BC, and all across Canada, we are at all-time highs in case numbers. The percentage of people testing positive in our communities is at all-time highs – over 30% in some places.
As importantly, the rise in these numbers continues to accelerate. We are not yet at peak levels nor even at peak velocity of increase.
When individual cases occur in sport we are seeing a rapid spread within teams.
When players or staff test positive, and testing/isolation requirements triggered – there are sudden hockey cancelations. In just the past two weeks: the IIHF, the WJC, the NHL, the CHL, etc).
BCEHL SITUATION THIS WEEK
Any case occurring in our programs increases the chances of further restrictions on our sport, or the PHO halting competition altogether (which has occurred in other jurisdictions in Canada). We are motivated to do what we can to mitigate any chance of that happening.
There is no reason to think that the current risk in BC of a positive test, and/or a need to be isolated is any less of an issue for our league, athletes, staff, drivers, and officials at this time. Anything we can do to mitigate this risk must be considered.
Some of the activities that we (BCEHL) undertake in order to operate (gather together in groups of 20+ for travel, hotel, meals, etc.) are among the higher risk activities for spread of the Omicron variant.
Having the BCEHL respond by adjusting its schedule for the upcoming weekend, with changes intended to minimize the sustained close contact associated with group travel, is a reasonable way to navigate the current situation while trying to keep league play going.
This situation is bigger than hockey, and bigger than our league. Minimizing risk is the right way to proceed in the current situation, individually and collectively. Acting in ways that contribute to solutions and reduce the chance of contributing to the rise in cases is the right thing to do.
We know that our athletes, families and stakeholders understand and we thank them for their patience and support as we work to keep our game healthy and our teams on the ice.
More than ever it is time for all of us to keep perspective and for our leagues, teams and athletes be leaders in our communities.
We are hopeful that these are short term measures.