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The NHL plans to punish unvaccinated players more harshly if they test positive for the coronavirus as part of new protocols for the upcoming season.
Teams can suspend unvaccinated players without pay if they cannot participate in hockey activities as part of the protocols, according to a person with knowledge of the new rules. The person spoke to The Associated Press on condition of anonymity Friday because the protocols had not been announced.
Fully vaccinated players will have any COVID-19 positives treated as hockey injuries and will still be paid. Coaches and other team staff who closely interact with players must be fully vaccinated.
Unvaccinated players will have their movements restricted when on the road. There will still be regular coronavirus testing for vaccinated players.
League officials estimated that between 90 and 95 per cent of players are fully vaccinated or will be before training camps begin later this month. The season begins Oct. 12.
Teams were informed this week of the rules for 2021-22, which were first reported by Sportsnet. It’s not clear yet how crossing the U.S.-Canada border will affect the season.
The NHL realigned last season to take the border out of the equation until late in the playoffs. The seven Canada-based teams only faced off against each other, and the 24 in the U.S. played a division-only 56-game schedule.
When the Montreal Canadiens faced Vegas and Tampa Bay in the final two rounds, players and staff travelling back and forth were put in a quarantined bubble when in Montreal, as part of an agreement with the Canadian government.
The NHL held the entire 2020 playoffs in bubbles in Toronto and Edmonton, because of low virus case rates in those cities at the time.
What’s happening across Canada
What’s happening around the world
As of Friday, more than 219 million cases of COVID-19 had been reported worldwide, according to Johns Hopkins University. The reported global death toll stood at more than 4.5 million.
In Asia, South Korea will extend coronavirus restrictions in the greater Seoul area for at least another month as the nation grapples with its worst surge. Additionally, officials say they will limit occupancy in trains and passenger vessels during the Chuseok holiday period, the Korean version of Thanksgiving, which falls on Sept. 21.
In Africa, South Africa’s Health Minister Joe Phaahla says the government will let businesses decide whether to make vaccinations mandatory for employees and clients. He says the government plans to encourage people to get inoculated, with incentives such as allowing soccer matches and concerts for vaccinated people.
In the Americas, U.S. employers added just 235,000 jobs in August, a modest gain after two months of robust hiring at a time when the delta variant’s spread has discouraged some people from flying, shopping and eating out. The August job gains the government reported Friday fell far short of the big gains in June and July of roughly one million a month.
In Europe, Danish Health Minister Magnus Heunicke says residents in nursing homes will get a third shot of the COVID-19 vaccine, starting next week. The government acted on a recommendation by the Danish Health Authority, which says the “re-vaccination of residents in nursing homes starts now, as they are at increased risk of a serious course of COVID-19.”
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