The majority of NHL ice hockey teams are set to open their arenas at full capacity when the 2021-22 season gets underway next month.
ESPN, citing a memo circulated to teams last week, reported that the league is hopeful that 30 out of its 32 arenas can operate without restrictions. The only exceptions are the Montreal Canadiens, which are set to open at 33% capacity, and the Vancouver Canucks, whose capacity has been estimated at 50%.
Ongoing local COVID-19 guidelines will prevent the Canadiens and Canucks from fully reopening their arenas, but all remaining teams are anticipating welcoming back capacity crowds. The 2021-22 NHL season will begin on October 12.
Last week, it was reported that the Toronto Maple Leafs were planning on opening Scotiabank Arena at full capacity, with the team waiting on approval from the Ontario provincial government.
ESPN added that the memo circulated among teams details each franchise’s COVID-19 protocols. Ten teams will require proof of vaccination for entry, with a further eight teams to allow admission with either proof of vaccination or a negative test.
Masks will be required for all fans at 21 NHL arenas, with 25 teams to require a mask for children aged 12 and under.
In May, the NHL agreed a multi-year partnership with cleaning and disinfection products manufacturer the Clorox Company. The contract includes marketing and product integrations in support of the league’s COVID-19 protocols during the Stanley Cup playoffs, plus outdoor NHL events, including the Winter Classic, Stadium Series and Heritage Classic.
During the partnership, Clorox electrostatic sprayers, disinfecting wipes, and hand sanitiser may be used in NHL dressing rooms, training and weight rooms, team benches, penalty box areas, and additional hockey operations spaces at NHL outdoor events.
The 2020-21 NHL campaign was significantly hit by COVID-19, with only a small number of fans permitted at regular-season games played in the US. Capacities were able to increase for the playoffs.