COVID-19 Response: Return to Play Guidelines, FAQ & Resource Links
Current as of February 18, 2020
SPMHA receives regular requests for information or details on how COVID-19 is impacting the season. The simple answer is that things are changing weekly, if not almost daily.
The purpose of this page is to answer as many of your questions as possible with the information that we have to date, and to provide timely updates as more information or details become available.
Currently, we are operating under Step 1 of Alberta Health's "Path Forward" framework. This allows a return to group practices of 10 participants or less per half ice portion, under strict adherance to Government and facility guidelines.
We direct you to review the current Guidance for Sport, Physical Activity and Recreation, as well as Strathcona County's Re-Entry Guidelines document and encourage you to check back frequently for updates as we receive updated information. We have also included links to relevant guidelines and protocols that may offer additional detail.
If you have a question that is not covered below, feel free to send it to email@example.com and if applicable, we will add it to this page. We understand that our membership is looking for details and we thank you for your patience as we try to navigate this difficult time.
Frequently Asked Questions - State of Public Health Emergency Measures
What is the current state of Return to Play, and how long will this current state last?
Starting on February 16th, the Alberta Government allowed the return of group based practices under Step 1 of their "Path Forward" framework. This period allows for group practices of 10 participants or less on a half-ice surface, with limited entry & exit times, limited access to dressing rooms, and no spectators.
This stage is to be in place a minimum of three weeks, so the earliest we would be able to move to Step 2 of the plan is March 1st. Under Step 2, we expect an additional relaxation of measures, though we have not been provided any additional details of what that might entail. We do know that hospitalization rates must be below 450 before we move to the next step.
What are the criteria for an organization to apply for an AHS exemption to the current government restrictions? Will this apply to our hockey program?
In the initial November 24th order, SPAR (Sports, Physical Activity and Recreation) indicated that AHS would be entertaining applications for exemptions for activities related to the Professional Sporting Event Guidance. Professional programs/organizations that are able to implement a ‘bubble’ could be considered, but no other sports, programs, leagues, etc. would be.
Minor hockey groups are not in a position to request an exemption, as the conditions that must be met are well outside the budget and resources available.
Can players participate in hockey activities in a community outside of their association during this phase?
The current health measures are in place province-wide, so all communities are under the same measures. Hockey Alberta has allowed for players from outside associations whose municipalities have closed their ice surfaces to register and participate with an Association that is still operating.
As our association is still operating, SPMHA players would not be eligible to participate elsewhere.
Outdoor sports were not previously included in the restrictions, are teams still allowed to hold practices and games on outdoor rinks?
All levels of sport (whether indoor or outdoor) are currently restricted in Sherwood Park. Outdoor activity is only permitted when proper physical distancing is in place between all participants and when the activity adheres to the outdoor social gathering limit of a maximum of 10 people (the use of locker rooms is also still prohibited). Teams may make use of outdoor ice surfaces, as long as current restrictions are adhered to.
Who should we contact if we identify operators or individuals acting outside the public health order?
Violations of Public Health Orders are subject to fines up to $1,000 and complaints can be submitted to the Public Health Inspectors by Clicking Here.
A person is prohibited from attending and an operator of a business or entity is prohibited from providing or hosting an indoor group high-intensity or low intensity fitness activity or an indoor sport activity in the Calgary Metropolitan Region, Edmonton Metropolitan Region, City of Grande Prairie, City of Lethbridge, City of Fort McMurray and City of Red Deer, in the Province of Alberta.
Why are Junior leagues such as the AJHL and WHL still playing games while health restrictions are in place?
The AJHL and WHL have established a return to play plan under the Government of Alberta’s ‘Junior, Collegiate and University League Guidance’. They have established additional measures to mitigate the risk of transmission that aligns with that guidance and, according to AHS, Leagues operating under that guidance are exempt from the new Targeted Health Measures.
Frequently Asked Questions - GENERAL
What steps and planning has SPMHA been doing to operate hockey amidst the current environment?
SPMHA's contingency committee is constantly monitoring the guidance being provided from Alberta Health Services, Hockey Canada and Hockey Alberta. We are in regular weekly contact with Strathcona County Facility Management to coordinate our efforts in developing procedures and protocols to guide adherence with any public health orders or recommendations. At the bottom of the page, you will find links to the current guidance documents that have been developed or obtained through each of those organizations. Effectively Hockey Canada has provided general guidance to all the provincial bodies. Hockey Alberta has in turn provided general guidance to the local associations and leagues while taking into consideration the current Alberta Health guidelines.
In addition, below you will also find the County of Strathcona’s Arena Re-Entry Guidelines. As the facility operator, Strathcona County is responsible to set the rules under which hockey programs will be entitled to operate in their facilities.
What is the refund policy on camps and season registration?
We can appreciate the increased concern regarding hockey-related expenses given the varying experiences that our members have had over the past several months. We believe that we cannot over-communicate enough our stance on refunds. Our members will receive a fair refund for cancelled portions of the program.
In terms of camps, if any camps are cancelled before they begin, full refunds will be processed. If any camps are cancelled after they begin, refunds will be processed on a prorated basis.
In terms of the 2020-2021 registration fees, refunds will be calculated and processed at the end of the season, once we are able to determine the full financial impact. Members were given the option to opt-out of the remaining season by February 11th, with any refunds being calculated based on that date. Our full refund policy can be found in our SPMHA Policies and Procedures document. Registration fees account for a variety of items including ice allocation, administration, development, equipment, officials and league & membership fees. We will complete our due diligence as details evolve and will be ready to address financial implications as we encounter them. We appreciate your patience and ask that you trust that we will communicate information as we have it.
Is COVID-19 covered under our Hockey Canada Insurance?
Yes. Unlike most other insurance policies available to sports organizations, as a sanctioned member of Hockey Alberta & Hockey Canada, any participant of our program is covered for infectious disease (inclusive of COVID-19) under our collective insurance policy through till at least September 1st, 2023. For more information on the Hockey Canada Insurance program, which is only available to sanctioned Minor Hockey Association participants, CLICK HERE.
Can players utilize dressing rooms?
While limited in capacity, players are able to make use of dressing rooms 10 minutes before and after their assigned sessions. Participants are required to wear masks at all times while in facilities, and players may remove masks only while on the ice-surface. At the conclusion of the session, players must go directly from the ice to their dressing room and exit the facility within 10 minutes. Please note that showers are not available.
Are spectators allowed in facilities?
No, under current guidance, spectators are not currently permitted. If parents/chaperones/volunteers are required to be in a facility for the purposes of assuring that players are safe, this number must be kept to the lowest amount possible. Strathcona County is allowing that each group of 10 participants be allowed up to 2 "Covid Coordinators" for the the purpose of communicating with facility staff, assisting players with equipment, injuries or off-ice issues. These designates will have an assigned area where they will be allowed to observe practice within communication distance of the on-ice teams staff.
What are the requirements if a participant shows COVID symptoms, tests positive, or has been in close contact with a known positive case?
We ask that every participant complete a self-assessment HealthCheck ahead of each scheduled session though TeamSnap. If a participant fails their HealthCheck test, they are required to follow the Alberta Health guidelines which are noted below. You can also reference Hockey Alberta's COVID Symptom Chart
If a participant presents COVID symptoms
- You are legally required to isolate for a minimum of 10 days if you have a cough, fever, shortness of breath, or a loss of taste & smell that is not related to a pre-existing illness or health condition.
- The mandatory isolation period is 10 days from the start of symptoms, or until symptoms resolve, whichever takes longer.
If a participant has tested positive for COVID-19
- You are legally required to isolate for a minimum of 10 days if you have tested positive for COVID-19.
- Isolation period is for 10 days from the start of symptoms, or until symptoms resolve, whichever takes longer.
If a participant has had symptoms but tested negative for COVID-19
- If you tested negative and have known exposure to COVID-19, you are legally required to isolate for 14 days.
- If you tested negative and have no known exposure to the virus, you are not legally required to isolate. However, it is important to stay home until your symptoms resolve so that you do not infect others.
If a participant has had close contacts with a confirmed COVID case
- You are legally required to isolate for 14 days and monitor for symptoms if you are a close contact of a person who tested positive for COVID-19 (has close physical contact without appropriate use of personal protective equipment, or comes into direct contact with infectious body fluids)
- If you become sick with cough, fever, shortness of breath, or lose taste & smell during this time, you must isolate for an additional 10 days from the beginning of symptoms or until you are feeling well, whichever takes longer.
- Individuals who previously tested positive for COVID-19 in the 90 days before being exposed to another case of COVID-19 are not required to quarantine.
If a participant has no symptoms, but has had close contact with someone with symptoms (such as a sibling or parent) and provided such person has not been in contact with a known positive COVID-19 case, Alberta Health does not require the participant to isolate, however, SPMHA requests that the participant does not participate until:
- The family member showing symptoms has been tested and receives a negative test result if required by Alberta Health; and
- The family member’s symptoms have resolved.
This is only recommended and SPMHA asks its families to use practical judgement in this determination.
In the event we experience a positive COVID-19 test from any of our participants, we will follow the guidance of Alberta Health as may be required, including testing of participants/coaches and quarantine protocols as may be required to safely return that participant and/or team to play. Any additional details on this process will be updated here in due course once more information is available.
As with most of the COVID-19 rules, guidelines and regulations, ours are based on families self-regulating and abiding by these guidelines.
What are teams required to do in the case of a positive COVID-19 test on their team?
In the event that a cohort member contacts you with a positive Covid-19 case, the following information should be obtained asap if AHS has not already followed up with your association:
- Inform SPMHA administration ASAP (firstname.lastname@example.org, email@example.com)
- Identify date and time of symptom onset, or date and time the test was taken if asymptomatic
- Identify all hockey related activities that occurred in the previous 48 hours leading up to symptom onset or test time if asymptomatic, and the attendance records of the positive member at these activities.
- Identify any and all ‘cohort teams’ that participated in the above identified activities. (ie. game opponents, combined practices)
Based on the information provided above, SPMHA will proceed to shut down any affected teams for the required 14 day period, and potential contacts with a notification of contact with instructions on how to proceed.
What happens if a family does not want to travel for a tournament or attend any other team event?
Based on current guidelines it is highly unlikely that there would be any tournaments or other travel-based team events. However, in the event those guidelines change, as with any team event, no player is obligated to attend anything that they do not wish to.
Are face shields be required for players to reduce the risk of transmission?
This is not a current mandate from Hockey Canada nor Hockey Alberta. As such, it will not be a mandate from SPMHA. Players will have the choice to wear a face shield or a cage on their helmets.
Are players required to use masks?
Face coverings (non-medical masks) are currently required in all Strathcona County public facilities. Players, coaches and spectators will be required to wear a mask when entering recreation facilities and in any public gathering areas within the facilities. Players are not required to wear masks while on the ice surface. Coaches must where masks at all times while in the facility, including on-ice. Please see Strathcona County's FAQs for more information.
Please remember that this situation is very fluid and constantly changing. SPMHA is committed to returning our players to the ice in accordance with the guidelines and recommendations of the governing authorities in a safe manner. As more details become available, questions posed or guidelines are amended we will updated this page accordingly.