See below for an update from our PMHA President.
I wanted to let our PMHA families know that VIAHA held an emergency meeting this past Wednesday evening, where it was decided, unanimously, to suspend all hockey games for VIAHA teams for the next two weeks. There will be a memo from VIAHA about this later today. This decision was in response to concerns regarding the increase in COVID-19 cases on Vancouver Island. This two week period for suspension of games will begin this weekend (November 21 and 22) and continue through next (November 28 and 29). VIAHA will re-evaluate after this two week period to determine if games can resume. During this period, all teams will only be allowed to have practices, following the rules that have been set out by viaSport within their return to play plan.
Our ice allocator, Martin, has created a schedule for the next two weeks that will allow all teams to get ice time – including slots on the weekend that would normally be used for games. It will likely look similar to what we saw in September and early October.
As well, the Provincial Health Officer, Dr. Bonnie Henry, has implemented provincial orders as of today, November 19th, to help slow the spread of COVID-19. For hockey, we will be maintaining Phase 3 under the viaSport return to play plan. What Dr. Henry has added is that teams cannot travel out of their local community to play games, as we are finding that COVID-19 transmission is happening during traveling, carpooling and socializing before and after games.
Shared practices (as long as the number in the arena is under 50) are still allowed. Eagles Academy development programs will be able to continue as they already follow Phase 2 Return to Sport guidelines. This will also mean no spectators at practices, you can only attend if you are a coach (four maximum), a safety, or COVID monitor.
I know that this is disappointing for some, and a relief for others. Both of these feelings are valid. Right now we are seeing very fast growth of COVID-19 cases throughout the province. While the case counts are lower here on the Island, they are also increasing at a very fast rate.
Dr. Henry has been very clear that it is time for all of us to take a step back – to all do our part to keep schools open, to support health care workers and to keep essential businesses running. We all have done an amazing job of following the rules, to allow hockey to start and continue here. Our teams from U11 up to U21 have been fortunate to all have played games with other teams, and our U9 and U7 groups have been having a great time learning this great game and having fun.
Martin will be in touch with your team manager regarding the ice schedules by Friday morning. Please continue to follow the rules set by Panorama, viaSport and Island Health to reduce our risk and be safe.
This is a small step back, but we are all hopeful that we will be able to get back to games, as long as everyone does their part – not just at the rink, but in the community.