Extension of provincial health restrictions means junior hockey no closer to restarting

No news for junior hockey

Junior hockey leagues across B.C. will have to wait a while longer before knowing whether they will be able to restart again.

Provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry announced Friday morning that health restrictions, first imposed in November, would continue indefinitely.

The ban includes all indoor social gatherings as well as many sporting activities.

Henry did hint restrictions could be loosened by the end of the month if people continue to follow health orders already in place.

The news means junior hockey teams will have to wait to find out when, or if, they will be able to play a modified schedule this spring.

The Western Hockey League is hoping its five B.C.-based teams will be able to play a 24-game schedule beginning at the end of March.

Addressing the league specifically, Dr. Henry says current restrictions around travel and bringing people from different areas together precludes her from giving the league the green light to resume playing.

She said a formal proposal by the league in early January was rejected by her office.

"I know we have received some emails with other thoughts they had about different types of hubs," she said.

"I haven't seen it in detail."

The league is proposing operating hubs in both Kelowna and Kamloops.

Henry did say a resumption of play is something that will need to be planned for if things go well over the next few weeks.

"We are buying time between now and the end of the month to understand these variants of concern. Now that we have some more restrictions on travel and borders and to get our immunization program off and running again.

"Nothing will change in this period of time but, absolutely, I want to work with the Western Hockey League so that we can salvage a spring season for them."

Both Alberta and Washington State have given the green light for teams in those jurisdictions to resume playing.

More WHL articles