The Sharks will play the rest of their home games at SAP Center this month in an empty arena following the Santa Clara County public health department's ban on mass gatherings of more than 1,000 people, the team announced Wednesday.
"Admission to games will be limited to home and visiting club personnel, approved credentialed media and broadcast partners, essential club and arena staff, and NHL officials," the team said in a statement.
The Sharks will host the Montreal Canadiens on March 19, the Boston Bruins on March 21 and the Arizona Coyotes on March 29. The Barracuda, San Jose's AHL affiliate, also will play games closed to the general public on March 17 and March 22.
In the statement, the team said single-game ticket buyers will be refunded where they purchased the tickets. The Sharks ticketing department "will work with ticket holders on appropriate credits or refunds for these affected games."
The Sharks also revised their media policy in light of Wednesday's announcements, requiring all local and national media to request credentials on a game-by-game basis. San Jose previously barred media from locker-room access as a precaution, before MLB, MLS, the NBA and the NHL announced Monday they would all be indefinitely closing locker rooms to media.
Santa Clara County barred gatherings of more than 1,000 people Monday, with the exception of airports, shopping malls, transit centers, offices and retail and grocery stores. The MLS' Earthquakes announced Wednesday they have postponed their previously scheduled March 21 match against Sporting Kansas City at Avaya Stadium. San Francisco followed Santa Clara County on Wednesday, and the Warriors will not allow fans to attend their game against the Brooklyn Nets on Thursday as a result.
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Ahead of an order from Ohio Governor Mike DeWine banning large gatherings, the NHL's Columbus Blue Jackets announced shortly before the Sharks that they will close their home games to the general public "while the order is in effect." The Athletic's Pierre LeBrun reported Wednesday, citing a source, that "it's a possibility" the NHL will postpone its season.
The World Health Organization officially labeled the coronavirus, otherwise known as COVID-19, as a pandemic Wednesday. Over 1,000 Americans have contracted the virus, but that number is expected to increase as testing becomes more readily available. Thirty-seven people have died as a result of the virus, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, state officials and NBC News. California has the third-most confirmed cases nationwide (166) as of press time.