Federal government approves border travel exemption for NHL postseason

Photo courtesy: Immigration Canada

The federal government has made an exemption to Canada’s border travel regulations for teams involved in the NHL postseason.

Immigration Minister Marco Mendicino released a statement on Sunday.

Following careful review by public health officials at all levels of government, a National Interest Exemption has been approved to allow the next round of the NHL Stanley Cup Playoffs to be played in Canada and the United States. 

This decision was made in conjunction with Health Canada, with the approval of provincial and municipal public health officials, including Ontario, Quebec, Manitoba and Alberta.

The NHL’s COVID Playoff Protocol will permit cross-border travel that is safeguarded by strict quarantining, a bubble, daily testing and a comprehensive protocol that will apply to all travelling NHL players and personnel. 

Incoming players and club personnel from the United States to Canada will be subject to pre and post-arrival daily testing. Furthermore, they will be required to quarantine at pre-approved hotels and arenas. 

In addition to NHL’s COVID Protocol, NHL players and personnel will have to abide by all local public health rules. We continue to monitor the COVID-19 situation on both sides of the border. We will not hesitate to take further public health measures where necessary.

Players and team officials will be permitted to cross the border without completing the mandatory 14-day quarantine. They will arrive and depart the country via private jet and be subjected to frequent COVID-19 tests. Teams will also be required to remain in a ‘bubble’ while across the border, staying exclusively at the hotel and the hockey rink.

The decision from Mendicino could be a positive for the CFL as the league works to return to play in 2021. The current plan is to have players quarantine at home for one week before traveling to their CFL cities, at which point they will complete a second week of quarantine.

Meanwhile, the Montreal Canadiens currently lead the Winnipeg Jets 2-0 in the second round of the Stanley Cup playoffs. The winner will advance to the semifinal round during which they will compete against an American team for the first time this season.

Game 3 between the Habs and Jets is scheduled at 6:00 p.m. ET on Sunday at the Bell Centre.