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Jason Kenney, the Premier of Alberta has sent a letter to Prime Minister Justin Trudeau asking that foreign professional athletes be exempt from the 14-day quarantine period that is currently required for people entering the country. In his request, Kenny pointed to a similar exemption that the U.S. government made last week, according to Sportsnet.
Gary Bettman, the NHL commissioner said on Tuesday that one of the 10 cities being considered as a hub when play resumes is Edmonton, Alberta.
“On May 22, 2020, the Government of the United States, through Acting Homeland Security Secretary (Chad) Wolf, allowed for an exemption that enabled the entry of certain foreign professional athletes, their staff and league leadership into the United States,” wrote Kenney. “Such an exemption from the Canadian government would be necessary to enable the (Oilers Entertainment Group’s) bid to play host to the NHL playoffs. The Government of Alberta believes there are effective strategies in place to mitigate any risk for our province if such an exception was granted.”
As the border between the U.S. and Canada remains closed, people who are not considered essential are required to self-isolate for 14 days. The border is set to remain closed until June 21.
When asked about giving an exemption to the NHL in a May 3 press conference Trudeau said that there would have to be more discussions before a decision can be reached.
“I think it’s a question we’ll have to look into,” Trudeau said. “Certainly at a strict minimum, anyone who arrives from another country will have to follow all the rules of quarantine in an extremely strict manner, but we’re not there yet in our discussions with the NHL.
“We recognize that it’s a possibility, but it depends on an enormous amount of things, and I don’t want to speculate on this until there’s more discussion.”
Dr. Deena Hinshaw, the provinces Chief Medical Officer of Health wrote to Bettman on Wednesday with guidelines for the province if it were to host the NHL. Included were details on quarantine upon arrival, pre-travel checks, accommodations, practices, transportation, media, games and facilities.
“If the NHL, its staff and players indicate they would be able to comply with these guidelines, I would support an event of this statues to enable all participants in these NHL hockey games to stay safe and healthy,” wrote Dr. Hinshaw. “As Alberta welcomes NHL players and staff, I am confident in the capabilities of our public health system and health care capacity to address any arising need.”
Bill Daly, the deputy commissioner, says that the NHL will not be able to come to Canada without an exemption from the federal government.
“If we’re not able to really get an interpretation of the quarantine consistent with our players’ ability to travel in and not have to do a strict self-quarantine in a hotel room … we won’t be in a position to use any of the Canadian cities as a hub,” Daly said on Tuesday. “So we’re faced with having to find a solution to that. And hopefully we can.”
Last week, Edmonton Mayor Don Iveson also wrote to Bettman explaining how the city will accommodate the teams.
“As Edmonton’s number-one priority is the health and safety of its residents, we recognize that the NHL has placed health and safety as a top priority for the return of the hockey season,” Iveson’s letter said.
“And we understand that OEG (Oilers Entertainment Group) has been working closely with our provincial government on a detailed health framework and protocol that prescribe conditions under which games hosted by Edmonton would take place.”
“Ice District’s facilities and proximity to downtown hotels minimize the need for participants’ movement between the arena and their accommodations. In addition, the City of Edmonton is working closely with OEG on an agreement to use our high-quality civic recreational facilities, currently closed to Edmontonians during the pandemic, where NHL teams could practice and train safely while in Edmonton.”
The NHL will make a decision on which hub cities the games will be held in when it has a more clear timeline.