Public health officials in Saskatchewan have granted the Western Hockey League approval to begin play in a bubble at the Brandt Centre.
The 24-game schedule for the five Saskatchewan and two Manitoba teams will begin on Friday, March 12 with no fans in attendance.
The WHL has developed an extensive set of protocols and believe the protective hub environment will provide a high standard of safety, for not only players and staff, but the Regina community at large. WHL players and staff from the seven clubs will begin self-quarantining February 20 and then will report to the WHL Hub Center in Regina on February 27, where they will be required to undergo COVID-19 testing upon arrival followed by an additional quarantine period. Players and staff will then undergo a second COVID-19 test before being permitted to engage in any team activity.
The teams will be housed in dorms at Luther College and the University of Regina.
“The WHL appreciates the cooperation we have received from both the Governments of Saskatchewan and Manitoba as we work towards a safe return to play in the East Division,” commented WHL Commissioner Ron Robison. “With our extensive protocols and the necessary approvals now in place, we are looking forward to play getting underway in Regina and allowing our players to continue their development at the highest level in the Canadian system.”
WHL Clubs are also committed to providing private PCR testing through DynaLIFE Medical Labs, to ensure no additional strain is placed on public health. Players will be tested upon arrival to their WHL Club and once again before engaging in any team activity. DynaLIFE’s PCR testing is considered a gold standard for COVID-19 testing, and was utilized in Edmonton during the NHL’s Stanley Cup Playoffs and the 2021 IIHF World Junior Championship.
This news means all divisions except for the B.C Division has been given the green light to play. The WHL is working with government health authorities in B.C to establish a start date.