The Board of Governors officially shortened the COVID isolation period in the NHL from ten to five days. This news came early Wednesday and sits in line with CDC guidelines for the general public.
NEWS: #NHL has officially shortened isolation period to 5 days with a negative test – IF allowed by local health authorities.#NHL now in line with CDC guidelines, according to memo distributed to teams today which was obtained by @DailyFaceoff.
Here’s the updated protocol ⬇️ pic.twitter.com/XLp9Ghq0va
— Frank Seravalli (@frank_seravalli) December 29, 2021
NHL COVID Isolation Period Shortened
Before today, the guidelines from the NHL meant that a positive COVID test forced players to isolate for at least ten days. Then, they needed a negative COVID test, medical clearance from their team’s physician, and permission from their local health authority.
The only change to the above is that the time frame shortens from ten to five days. The requirements for a negative test, medical clearance and local health permission remain effective.
What This Means for the Future
The memo distributed by the NHL includes the full process and procedures players must adhere to following a positive COVID test. Overall, not much changes. The one bit changing, though, is a significant piece. It means players can potentially return to play in half the time it took before.
Of course, any symptoms of COVID after five days still prevent the player from exiting the protocols. But the reduced COVID isolation period lets NHL players who are asymptomatic or fully recovered in less than ten days to get back to work.
The league also re-instated taxi squads, similar to what they put in place over the last couple of seasons in response to the pandemic. So, now teams will carry extra players with them who can more quickly fill-in in the case of an emergency. This comes just a week after multiple teams played NHL games with fewer than a standard 18 player roster. That included numerous instances of EBUGs filling in as backup due to positive COVID tests to one of the team’s usual goalies. The league hopes bringing back the taxi squads will at least ensure teams always can ice a full, competitive roster. And now that the isolation period has been cut in half, players can get back to playing in a much quicker timeframe. Hopefully, the pair of changes allows the league to carry forward and minimize cancellations throughout the remainder of the 2021-22 NHL season.