NHL unveils COVID-19 protocols for 2021-22 season, which include penalties on unvaccinated players

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Rather than forced inoculations against COVID-19, most major sporting leagues in the United States have chosen to pursue health and safety policies that do not outright mandate players to take a COVID vaccine, but instead limit what players who aren’t vaccinated can do. The National Hockey League is continuing that trend.

According to a report by Emily Kaplan of ESPN, the NHL informed its teams of the league’s health and safety protocols for the 2021-22 season, which place severe restrictions on unvaccinated players. Many of the rules against unvaccinated players apply to road trips:

  • Players who aren’t vaccinated will only be able to go to their team hotel, practice facility and arena while being unable to use areas such as bars, restaurants, gyms, and pools
  • Unvaccinated players will also be forbidden from having teammates or visitors in their hotel rooms
  • Under NHL rules, teams will be permitted to suspend unvaccinated players who are “unable to participate in club activities,” whether due to a positive test for COVID-19 or due to an inability to travel because of government restrictions
  • Unvaccinated players lose one day’s pay for each day they miss, though the league will make exceptions for players who do not take a vaccine due to religious or medical reasons

According to ESPN, an “overwhelming majority” of NHL players have taken a COVID vaccine, so these rules should not apply to a large portion of the league. 

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