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Massachusetts To Reopen Ice Rinks Saturday With New COVID Guidelines

BOSTON (CBS) - Ice rinks in Massachusetts are set to reopen on Saturday after being closed for two weeks due to a rise in coronavirus cases. The state's Executive Office of Energy and Environmental Affairs (EEA) released new guidelines for youth and adult amateur sports activities Friday, including updated guidelines for ice rink facilities and youth ice hockey.

The guidelines will go into effect at 12:01 a.m. on Saturday.

Massachusetts Gov. Charlie Baker ordered indoor skating rinks close for two weeks starting Oct. 23 after at least 30 coronavirus clusters were linked to ice hockey. The goal of the shutdown was to develop stronger protocols to keep players, families, and staff safe.

"It is important that the hockey community understands and follows this guidance," said the organization Massachusetts Hockey in a statement. "Those not following the guidance are subject to fines and shutdowns from the various state agencies at the local level and any widespread disregard for the guidance puts the entire sport at risk for a much longer stoppage, which is not what anyone wants."

To comply with the state's latest round of coronavirus restrictions, ice rinks must close by 9:30 p.m., and cannot re-open until at least 5 a.m. the next day.

Anyone who doesn't follow the new guidance could be fined up to $300.

The updated hockey guidelines include the following:

  • Face Coverings: Players, coaches, and officials are required to wear face coverings at all times. Face coverings deemed acceptable are ones that follow the CDC guidance.
  • Spectators: Ice rink facilities can allow two adult chaperones and siblings per player, as long as they follow social distancing guidelines. Each facility must always be below 50% capacity.
  • Contact Tracing: Both the operator of a facility and the entity that purchases ice time must comply with all contact tracing requests. The failure to cooperate will lead to fines and possible shutdowns for those who do not comply.
  • Multiple Games/Tournaments: Teams are limited to one game per day. The only exception is if games are played back-to-back in a multi-sheet facility and the facility has good enough transition space for players and spectators. There also must be no break in between games.
  • Travel/Out Of State Teams And Players: Facilities may only allow Massachusetts-based teams and Massachusetts-based participants to participate in Massachusetts-based events held at Massachusetts-based facilities. Any Massachusetts-based athlete that chooses to leave the state to participate in a sports event must comply with the COVID-19 Travel Order issued by the state before returning to work, school or public events. Any facility or program that hosts an out-of-state team at a Massachusetts facility or allows an out-of-state player to participate on a Massachusetts-based team risks facility closure or suspension of practices and/or games.
  • Locker Rooms: Locker rooms are to be closed indefinitely. Players are being asked to arrive dressed in their equipment. Players will have socially-distanced space to put on skates and other equipment before getting on the ice.
  • Transportation: Everyone must wear face coverings if they are carpooling to an event. Carpooling is also strongly discouraged.
  • Body Checking: Deliberate contact, like body-checking, will be allowed after it had previously been eliminated.
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