All indoor ice rinks and ice skating facilities in Massachusetts are prohibited from operating for the next two weeks due to rising coronavirus cases connected to indoor ice hockey, the state's Department of Public Health announced Thursday night.
Officials say the new public health order is in response to multiple COVID-19 clusters occurring at rinks throughout the state following games, practices and tournaments. Nearly 110 cases of the virus have been directly connected to hockey, the DPH said in a press release.
Health officials say this two-week pause will allow stronger COVID-19 protocols to be developed to further protect players, families, coaches, arena staff and other participants, as well as communities surrounding hockey rinks.
Current protocols include limits on the number of people allowed in an arena and social distancing.
The two-week order is in effect from 5 p.m. on Oct. 23 thought 12:01 a.m. on Nov. 7 and applies to all indoor ice rinks and ice skating facilities in the state. College and professional programs are exempt from the order, however.
State health officials say there have been at least 30 clusters of COVID-19 associated with organized ice hockey activities involving residents from more than 60 municipalities. Each cluster includes two or more confirmed or probable COVID-19 cases, totaling 108 cases in the Bay State.
As of Thursday, 143,927 people had tested positive for COVID-19 in Massachusetts, an increase of 986 from the previous day. Thirty new deaths were reported, bringing the statewide total to 9,589.
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Neighboring states including New Hampshire have enacted similar temporary restrictions regarding indoor ice hockey. Gov. Chris Sununu said Thursday that testing could be required before youth hockey is allowed to resume in the Granite State.
It was last week that Sununu announced he was pausing indoor hockey and skating activities for two weeks after over 150 cases were directly connected to hockey.