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New travel restrictions not expected to impact IIHF World Women's Championship (update: tournament cancelled)

In Dr. Robert Strang's opinion, the tournament doesn't pose a risk because protocols are in place to prevent players from interacting with Nova Scotians
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UPDATE: IIHF World Women's Championship cancelled

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New rules restricting travel into the province are not expected to impact the IIHF World Women's Championship.

Halifax and Truro will host the 10-country hockey tournament, which is scheduled to run from May 6-16.

On Tuesday, it was announced those not coming from Prince Edward Island or Newfoundland and Labrador will not be allowed to enter Nova Scotia unless they are permanent residents or their travel is essential.

The protocol kicks in at 8 a.m. Thursday and will be in place for at least four weeks, meaning it won't be lifted after the event ends.

Dr. Robert Strang said health officials have worked with organizers to minimize spread of COVID-19 by preventing those involved from having any close contact with locals.

"They have very strict protocols," the chief medical officer of health said at a Tuesday briefing. "Essentially, if they come here, they will be in a bubble and have no interaction with Nova Scotians."

"That tournament, in my opinion, does not present a risk of bringing COVID, then transmitting it into Nova Scotia, with all the very strict protocols they have, even before they leave their home countries."

Last week, Strang stated just like any other traveller, players, officials, coaches and staff coming for the tournament will need to self-isolate for 14 days.

"They're quarantined in a hotel," he explained. "For a number of days they actually have to stay within their [individual] rooms, and then they're allowed to start practicing as a team."

"They're allowed to go, in a controlled manner, from their hotel to the arena where they have a dedicated change room, all the protocols in place and they have no exposure to anyone else. Then after practice is over, they go back to their hotel."

He said, once players are allowed to leave their individual isolations, the teams will become separate bubbles.

"Each team is separated from each other, there's no interaction between teams until games are actually played," said Strang. "And even as the tournament goes on, the only interaction between teams is during games."

At this point, fans will be allowed in the stands, following the same rules in place for Halifax Mooseheads games.

"Whatever the [gathering] rules are, based on where we're at with the epidemiology for spectators would apply to this tournament," Strang said.

He added if Nova Scotia's COVID situation starts to escalate, changes will be made.

"If for some reason things go completely sideways, we will adjust as necessary, like we did a year ago when we actually on short notice cancelled the same tournament," he assured. 

"We have that ability and will always put the protection of Nova Scotians first ahead of any event, including an international hockey tournament."



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Meghan Groff

About the Author: Meghan Groff

Born in Michigan, raised in Ontario, schooled in Indiana and lives in Nova Scotia; Meghan is the community editor for HalifaxToday.ca.
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