Capitals

Capitals

The NHL and NHLPA finalized extensive safety protocols for the season's restart Sunday and one major takeaway has been the rules pertaining to mask-wearing during games. 

Anyone inside the bubble is required to wear a mask once they leave their hotel rooms, and masks may be removed during exercise and play on the ice. As far as coaches and officials, they are not required to wear masks during games either. Also, if social distancing guidelines are being followed, broadcasters and players involved in interviews are not required to wear masks either. 

So basically, players and coaches have to wear masks everywhere inside the bubble and aren't allowed to visit each other's rooms, but once it's time to hit the ice, masks can come off. 

This, of course, doesn't mean every coach will go maskless during games. Those more at risk to the dangers of coronavirus still can, and probably should, wear a mask whenever they aren't in their rooms. 

According to TSN's Frank Seravalli, other notable protocols include daily tests for COVID-19, players, staff, officials, arena ice crew, security, hotel bartenders, food service staff, arena food and beverage staff, hotel housekeeping, hotel kitchen and food prep staff, and bus drivers. 

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Twenty-four teams are allowed to bring a maximum of 52 people, so there'd be approximately 2,000 tests conducted every day inside the bubble. 

If someone tests positive for COVID-19, they'll be required to isolate immediately. They'll undergo a second test, and if that one comes back positive, they'll have to remain in isolation until they're medically cleared. Individuals will need two consecutive negative tests to return to normal activities. 

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No players who test positive will be revealed to the public, though anyone considered to be in contact for 15 minutes or longer and at six feet or less of a positive case in the 48 hours leading up to the time of the positive test will be immediately removed and tested.

The nature of these safety protocols shows just how much of a logistical challenge the season restart will be. However, following these guidelines will be key to successful conclusion of the playoffs and eventual crowning of a Stanley Cup champion. So, for those who leave the bubble or violate health and safety protocols, they and their teams will be subject to penalties including fines, loss of draft picks and even an altogether removal from the bubble.

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