NHL Receives Travel Exemption for Cross Border Travelling

This year’s Stanley Cup Playoffs will include cross-border travel as the NHL has received a Travel Exemption from the Canadian government.

Sunday afternoon the news broke via the CBC that the NHL had received the exemption for the final two rounds of the Stanley Cup playoffs which would allow teams to cross the Canada-US border without quarantining. Canada’s current quarantine rules would require NHL players and staff to quarantine for 14 days.

NHL Receives Travel Exemption for Cross Border Travel

What the NHL’s Travel Exemption Means

The exemption means that any players and club personnel travelling across the border will be subject to enhanced public health measures in all provinces.

Canada’s Immigration Minister Marco Mendicino issued the “national interest” exemption to the league to allow cross-border travel under specific conditions.

The CBC is reporting that NHL players and team personnel will cross the border using private planes, and will be subject to pre and post-arrival testing in addition to daily COVID-19 tests. The players will also live in a modified quarantine bubble with no contact with the general public.

Of course, these rules are in addition to the other public health measures the NHL has already imposed on teams.

“In addition to NHL’s COVID Protocol, NHL players and personnel will have to abide by all local public health rules,” Mendicino said in a statement Sunday. “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.”

The exemption will allow the winner of the North Division and its U.S. opponent to freely cross the border during the Stanley Cup semifinals and finals.

Rumours Come True

When TSN  first reported the possibility of an exemption in late May, federal sources stressed that the health risk to the Canadian public was low. Vaccination rates are currently high among NHL players and the travelling parties that accompany teams.

The Montreal Canadiens are currently leading the Winnipeg Jets 2-0 in the North Division final. The winner of this series will face one of three U.S. division winners in the league semifinals. The two semifinal winners will square off for the Stanley Cup.

Previous Exemptions

The exemption would mark the first time regular cross-border travel occurs in the NHL during the pandemic. Last summer, the NHL finished its season with mini-hubs in Toronto and Edmonton, with teams only crossing the border once.

NHL personnel were also granted a special immunity in April to serve only a seven-day quarantine. The federal government also issued an exemption to the mandatory 14-day quarantine period for NHL players and team staff to return to Canada for training camp under “national interest grounds” in December.

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