The Western Hockey League has the OK to start up the Eastern Division

WHL gets eastern approval

The Saskatchewan government has given the Western Hockey League the green light to begin playing.

The government Friday approved the league's return to play plan, which includes using Regina as a hub city for all seven East division teams, including Manitoba-based Winnipeg and Brandon clubs.

A modified 24-game schedule will begin March 12, with all games played at the Brandt Centre.

The approval means three of the four divisions will be permitted to play. Only the BC Division has yet to have its return to play plan authorized.

Provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry extended the current restrictions which prohibit teams from playing indefinitely a week ago.

However, she hinted Monday those restrictions may be loosened "as soon as possible."

Under the plan in Saskatchewan, players will begin self-quarantining Feb. 20, then arrive in Regina Feb. 27.

Once in Regina, they will be tested, followed by a second quarantine.

"Enhanced screening for all WHL players, team staff and officials will also take place on a daily basis, including regular temperature screenings as well as symptom monitoring through the WHL Athlete RMS Mobile Application," the league said in a statement.

"Masks must be worn by all WHL players at all times with the exception of when players are participating on ice for games and practices. WHL coaches will be required to wear masks at all times, including while conducting practice and while behind the bench during games."

Fans will not be permitted.

The Central Division will begin play Feb. 26, while the US Division will start up March 19.

The B.C. proposal includes two hub cities. Victoria and the Rockets would play out of Kelowna, while Vancouver and Prince George would join the Blazers in Kamloops.

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