The NHL Has A COVID-19 Closed Border Problem

The league has not received guidance yet.

As April ends and the National Hockey League playoffs stare league administrators in the face with amid-May start planned, the league still does not know how COVID-19 will impact the march to Lord Stanley’s mug. The first two rounds should be able to take place without any problems unless there is a COVID-19 outbreak that sidelines players on a team or teams. United States-based teams will play United States-based teams and Canadian-based teams will play Canadian based teams. But in the semi-finals, there will be a Canadian based team and that is a problem. The United States-Canadian border has been closed except for emergency situations for more than a year because of the COVID-19 pandemic. A Stanley Cup playoff game is not an emergency, it is just a form of entertainment. The league could have a two week pause in the event because under Canadian COVID-19 health guidelines, Canada has a 14-day quarantine for anyone who enters the country. The country did make an exception for the National Hockey League by cutting down the quarantine to seven days for players who were traded to a North Division team this season.

Canada is going through another COVID-19 wave. Canada is finally ramping up COVID-19 vaccinations and that has been a problem for the seven NHL teams in the country. American-based teams have had access to the vaccine for a while, Canada is beginning to catch up. Ontario is in a lockdown. In March, Canada opened quarantine hotels for international flights landing in the country, and in the past few days the country banned flights from India and Pakistan as those countries are dealing with a severe COVID-19 outbreak. The Wilson Task Force on Public Health and the U.S.-Canadian Border has not been able to come up with guidelines to reopen the border. Meanwhile, the NHL waits.

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FILE – In this March 12, 2020, file photo, goals used by the NHL hockey club Nashville Predators are stored in a hallway in Bridgestone Arena in Nashville, Tenn. The National Hockey League and players reached a tentative deal Friday, Dec. 18, 2020, to hold a 56-game season in 2021, pending the approval of each side’s executive board and Canadian health officials. (AP Photo/Mark Humphrey, File)