The pause in ice sports will expire tonight at midnight and all FMC facilities will be open for scheduled programming beginning tomorrow morning. The state has issued updated amateur winter sports guidance (click here for full copy) that will modify some things at the rink to ensure your safety and mitigate the potential for spreading Covid-19.
A summary of the key changes is listed below and an updated FMC Operating Policy will be made available shortly. It is critical that we all understand the main reasons for the pause were activities around the sport (tail-gaiting / gatherings in the parking lots, team socializing between games, not adhering to the face covering policy at all times, not adhering to team room capacity limits at all times, etc.) as well as lack of cooperation with contact tracing.
While these issues represent a small fraction of our sport, they affect ALL OF US! The Governor and his administration have worked very hard to allow us to play a higher risk indoor sport during this pandemic and it is up to us to do our part in protecting our sport and communities by acting responsibly and following the guidance at all times. Whether you agree with certain rules or not they have been developed based on data and science and we ALL must follow them if we want ice sports to continue during this pandemic.
Following are the key points in the new guidance:
1. While it is not part of this guidance the 9:30pm closing time will be in effect until lifted by the Governor. This directive applies to most venues and activities across the Commonwealth and not just our sport / facilities.
2. No out of state teams or players/participants are allowed to participate. Many surrounding states (likely all shortly) are adopting the same restriction in order to limit the potential for spread across borders. Massachusetts players / participants who leave the state to participate in another state must follow the state travel protocols. However, no out of state team or player can participate in MA. For this purpose, “resident” means where you currently live, not where your permanent residence may be. If you are a prep school or college player living in MA but are a permanent resident of another state you are considered eligible. Be sure to use your current MA location on your contact tracing information.
3. Spectators have been increased from 1 to 2 parents / guardians and siblings of the participant up to 50% total occupant capacity of the rink. These spectator family units must socially distance together and remain 6’ apart from other individuals or family units. They must also wear face coverings at all times on the property. Note that some program organizers or non-FMC facilities will institute a no or reduced spectator policy due to space constraints or other factors and that is their prerogative.
4. Face coverings are now required for participants during all activity. We believe some hockey specific coverings attached to a cage or mask (CCM “Game On”, Bauer “Concept 3 Splash Guard”, etc.) are acceptable.
5. Contact / checking is now allowed in hockey pursuant to the standard USAH or league rules governing the program. The face covering requirement during play has allowed this easing of sport modifications.
6. Team rooms will be closed for all activities. This applies to both public and “private” team rooms. Participants should arrive dressed or complete dressing in the parking lot and put skates on in the designated area in the rink for your team / group. At the end of the session / practice / game, participants should remove their skates at the designated exit location and leave immediately. The intent is to eliminate crossover between groups and create an arrive/play/leave mentality to reduce close contacts.
7. Both the facility AND the program organizer (ice purchaser) share responsibility for providing contact data tracing. This is one of the most critical issues facing our sports and full compliance is absolutely necessary. We have requested rosters from all programs and expect to receive them before any team or group skates. These rosters must contain the name, current town of residence, phone and email of each participant broken out by team or group. All contacts must be included regardless of whether they participate regularly or not. These contacts will ONLY be shared with public health officials for contact tracing if a positive case is reported on a team or group. They will NOT be shared with any other entity or used for marketing or other purposes. The contact data will be destroyed at the end of the season. The failure of some coaches / organizers to provide this data or actively discourage participation in contact tracing efforts was one of the reasons our sport was paused. Contract tracing is NOT an effort to penalize any individuals or our sport, it is an essential element of halting the spread of the virus and protecting all of us. Everyone has a duty to actively assist the contact tracing effort. GET ON BOARD OR STOP PARTICIPATING SO YOU DON’T RUIN THINGS FOR THE 99% OF OUR SPORT THAT ARE FOLLOWING THE PROTOCOLS!
8. Tournaments are not allowed. Multiple games on the same day are only allowed in facilities that have multiple playing surfaces. As FMC’s rinks are all single surface, a team may only play one game in a day.
9. Transportation should be limited to immediate family members. If carpooling or otherwise traveling with a non-family member, all passengers must wear face coverings.
10. Congregating / socializing in the common areas of the facility is prohibited.
11. Absolutely no tail-gaiting or social gathering is allowed on the grounds or parking lot of the facility. Contact tracing has shown this to be a significant cause of spread.
12. Enforcement may include fines or suspension of activity for participants / teams / programs / rinks. Rinks that knowingly allow a program to use the facility that has a notice of non-compliance or is violating a directive from the Board of Health will be subject to a $300 per incident / per day fine and may be subject to closure.
A few other clarifications / reminders to be sure everyone is on the same page:
A. “Quarantine” means to cease playing the sport and isolate from others. It DOES NOT mean cease playing for a team but it is okay to play for another team or at another rink.
B. Physical distancing (6’) is required at all times including on the player benches.
C. Face coverings are required at all times inside AND outside while at the rink.
D. The ice is still considered a larger playing surface an therefore may have two separate cohorts of up to 25 participants practice at one time so long as they are at least 14’ apart and there is no crossover between the cohorts.
Mass Hockey has issued a very informative statement with highlights of the key changes.
Let’s get back to the ice safely and responsibly! #preventCOVID