The NHL and NHL Players’ Association announced their COVID-19 protocols for the 2022-23 season on Wednesday.
The protocols note that both the U.S. and Canada have travel quarantine restrictions that may keep unvaccinated individuals from crossing into the other country or force them into quarantine. Per the new protocols, teams are permitted to suspend unvaccinated players who are unable to participate in team activities due to their vaccination status. In those situations, teams can also force those players to forfeit pay for each day they are absent. Otherwise, any player who tests positive will continue to be paid for as long as they are unavailable to participate in team activities.
Players cannot be denied from participating in team activities based on their vaccination status unless protocols or government/health authorities call for it. Suspensions and fines also cannot be handed to unvaccinated players who have a medical or religious exemption.
Players who show COVID-19 symptoms must take a rapid test and quarantine while awaiting the test’s status. Those players must test daily for three days if the first test is negative.
For players who test positive, individuals who are asymptomatic can exit isolation within the first five days once they have two consecutive negative test results. For individuals who were symptomatic and in quarantine between six and nine days, they can exit isolation with one negative test result as long as it comes more than 24 hours since their last fever. Anyone who exits quarantine in fewer than 10 days must wear a face covering until it has been 10 days since the positive test.
Additionally, any player who exhibits upper respiratory infection symptoms must undergo cardiac testing following isolation.
As part of the 2022-23 protocols, organizations must disclose any positive COVID-19 cases from a player to the media.
Training camp, game or even season postponement is still on the table as an available option. Commissioner Gary Bettman still has the power to postpone, delay or move training camp or a portion of the NHL season if the league or NHLPA believe continuing the season “would create or exacerbate a material risk to players’ or others’ health and safety and/or jeopardize the integrity of the competition anticipated during the 2022/23 season.”