NHL to increase penalties, restrictions for unvaccinated players

NHL to increase penalties, restrictions for unvaccinated players
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The NHL will impose tighter restrictions and tougher penalties on unvaccinated players under new COVID-19 rules for the upcoming hockey season.

Unvaccinated players who are "unable to participate in club activities,” such as not being able to travel due to governmental regulations or testing positive for the coronavirus, are liable to be suspended by their teams, ESPN reported, citing a memo sent to teams on Thursday.

Additionally, unvaccinated players will forfeit a day's worth of pay any time they can't participate in a team activity, according to The Athletic, which also obtained a copy of the memo. Players who cite religious or medical reasons are reportedly exempt from the policy.

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Other restrictions on unvaccinated players include not being able to use certain amenities such as gyms, pools and restaurants while staying at a team hotel. They also cannot carpool or have visitors in hotel rooms, according to ESPN.

Those who have not been vaccinated will be required to undergo COVID-19 testing daily during the season, ESPN noted. Vaccinated players will need to be tested at least every third day.

A seven-day quarantine will also be required for unvaccinated players prior to the start of training camp.

An “overwhelming majority" of the league's players have been vaccinated against COVID-19, sources told ESPN.

The Hill has reached out to the NHL for comment.

The protocol comes as more sports teams, businesses and localities implement their own measures to combat the spread of the coronavirus as health officials have warned that the U.S. could see several hundred thousand COVID-19 cases daily in the fall.

The U.S. recorded 171,123 cases on Wednesday and more than 162,000 cases on Tuesday, according to data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Cases were around 10,000 a day in June.

About 73 percent of Americans ages 12 years and older have been at least partially vaccinated, while 62 percent are fully vaccinated.