If the Sharks' season begins on Jan. 1 as the NHL is targeting, they will have to begin training camp outside of San Jose.
Santa Clara County announced Saturday that "all contact sports" at the professional, collegiate and youth levels will be temporarily prohibited over the next three weeks as part of a wider effort to limit the spread of the coronavirus and prevent a surge in hospitalizations that would exceed capacity.
"The update today to the professional sports and collegiate sports directive will temporarily suspend activities that require direct physical contact or interaction in Santa Clara County," County Counsel James Williams told reporters Saturday. "So that means for those teams, they will not be able to play games or have practices where they have direct contact within the county."
The Sharks, as one of seven NHL teams that didn't participate when the season resumed during the summer from a suspension due to the coronavirus pandemic, likely would begin training camp a week or so earlier than the 24 teams that did. Training camps typically last two weeks, so giving the Sharks an extra week would mean camp would have to begin around Dec. 11 if the season begins on Jan. 1. Starting Monday, any players not already within Santa Clara County will be subject to a 14-day quarantine be if they're traveling from over 150 miles away.
Sharks players had begun skating informally at Solar4America Ice in San Jose, though Sharks president Jonathan Becher told reporters last week that the team was awaiting permission from the county to allow players to skate in large groups, but the team was exploring holding camp outside of Santa Clara County as "a backup plan." The Sharks operate two facilities in Alameda County: One in Oakland, and one in Fremont. Alameda County, like Santa Clara County, is in California's purple tier, which is the state's most restrictive for reopening amid the pandemic.
Santa Clara County said in a release Saturday that it set records for hospitalizations (239) and new COVID-19 cases (760). The county is "at risk of exceeding our hospital capacity if current trends continue," according to Public Health Officer Dr. Sara Cody.
"During this critical time of surging COVID-19 transmission in our community, I urge every resident to exercise caution and to the greatest extent possible, minimize contact with anyone outside of your immediate household," Cody said in the release.