Eagles soar

Kennett High hockey team members celebrate their state semifinal victory at Plymouth State University on March 11. The season was suspended before the championship due to COVID-19. (JAMIE GEMMITI PHOTO)

CONCORD — There will be no interstate youth hockey for kids in New Hampshire, Massachusetts, Vermont, Maine, Connecticut, Rhode Island, New Jersey effective Saturday because of COVID-19.

With concern for the spread of the virus whose numbers are ticking upward across the Northeast, Gov. Chris Sununu issued a statement Thursday morning.

It came following a joint announcement with six other governors.

“Given the support for this agreement from our regional neighbors, New Hampshire made the practical decision to join this effort,” said Sununu.

“We remain optimistic that our newly issued Hockey and Ice Arena guidance will continue to ensure a safe and successful hockey season for New Hampshire hockey players.”

A copy of New Hampshire’s current guidance is here tinyurl.com/y49suang.

The task force recommended a set of guidance to reopen rinks several months ago, but Sununu called a time-out for two weeks as Dr. Benjamin Chan, state epidemiologist said the practice of hockey was “high risk” and that it may have led to community spread through schools in as many as 24 school districts across the state.

The rinks were allowed to reopen after two weeks with the proviso that those who use them and enter them, be they coaches, parents, officials or athletes, have a negative COVID-19 test administered and recorded by Nov. 6.

Massachusetts followed Sununu’s lead to temporarily close rinks during the Granite State’s two-week cessation of activities. A new set of guidelines was approved for New Hampshire through the task force, state health, and the governor, but it still allows athletes to shower in the locker rooms and does not require the wearing of masks while on the ice.

Sununu joined New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy, Maine Governor Janet Mills, Rhode Island Gov. Gina Raimondo, Vermont Gov. Phil Scott, Connecticut Gov. Ned Lamont, and Massachusetts Gov. Charlie Baker in suspending interstate competitions.

The agreement is for public and private schools and youth hockey effective this Saturday, Nov. 14, 2020, through at minimum Dec. 31, 2020.

The joint release reads, “As case numbers increase in many states across the country, it is critical that neighboring states coordinate a regional approach to limit further community spread of the virus.

“The prohibition will not impact interstate collegiate, professional, or U.S. national team hockey activities, which will remain subject to existing health and safety protocols and/or restrictions.

“As public health data continues to evolve, the states will reassess the need for continued restrictions on interstate sports activities.”

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