On Wednesday, the NHL and NHLPA announced that they have agreed to modify the COVID-19 protocol, making a number of changes for players, coaches and hockey operations staff.
Fully vaccinated players, coaches and hockey operations staff will now only have to isolate after a positive test for five days instead of 10, given they meet the “required conditions.” The decision came following the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s new isolation guidelines for COVID-positive individuals and a league-wide pause and several postponed games amid a spike in COVID-19 cases and the rapid spread of the Omicron variant.
Of course, personnel will still have to comply with the health and safety regulations within their jurisdictions. This in ludes the Federal and Provincial COVID health and safety mandates in Canada.
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If an individual tests positive, they must isolate for five days. If they are asymptomatic or symptoms are getting better after five days, they can leave isolation and return to practices and games. However, the individual must wear a mask for five additional days, other than practices or games, and the following conditions must be met:
- A negative lab-based PCR test or lab-based PCR test with a CT value over 30
- Two negative molecular point of care tests collected more than two hours apart
- Medical clearance from the team physician
- “Such exit is permitted by their local health authority.”
- No present fever
The NHL and NHLPA’s medical experts will re-evaluate the situation on or before Jan. 12. Meanwhile, the rest of the protocol remains the same.
Right now, Washington has six players on COVID-19 protocol: Daniel Sprong, Justin Schultz, Martin Fehervary, Nick Jensen, Dennis Cholowski and Vitek Vanecek. The Capitals activated Nicklas Backstrom, Evgeny Kuznetsov and T.J. Oshie from protocol on Wednesday.
In total, 13 Capitals have been on COVID protocol this season. Nic Dowd, Garnet Hathaway and Trevor van Riemsdyk were in protocol early in December. Lars Eller was the first to test positive during Washington’s West Coast swing. He had to quarantine in Anaheim. Dowd, Eller and van Riemsdyk had mentioned that their symptoms were mild.
The Capitals will play in its first game since Dec. 19 when they host the Nashville Predators on Tuesday. Their last three games against Philadelphia, New York and Ottawa have all been postponed, along with their Jan. 4 game against Montreal.