As professional sports teams across North America mull whether or not to require fans to be fully vaccinated against COVID-19 in order to attend games in person, two of B.C.’s junior hockey leagues are still weighing their options.
On Friday, a spokesperson for the BC Hockey League, which has 18 teams – 17 in B.C. and one in Washington – said that the league does not currently have a plan in place to require fans to be vaccinated, but “we’re having discussions and weighing our options.”
The Lower Mainland-based Pacific Junior Hockey League is also in wait-and-see mode, with commissioner Trevor Alto telling Black Press Media that “safety protocols are an ongoing discussion” for all leagues moving forward.
Earlier this week, the National Hockey League’s Winnipeg Jets announced that fans would need to be fully vaccinated to attend homes games this upcoming season, and some other clubs – including the Vancouver Canucks – are expected to follow suit. In the U.S., the NBA’s Brooklyn Nets also announced Friday that fans would have to be vaccinated in order to enter their arena.
Alto added that the league will take its cues from the government and health experts.
“We feel it is important to allow our governing bodies to advise if certain protocols are needed as they have the expertise readily available. Should a direction on specific vaccine protocols be put in place we would 100 per cent comply to the best of our abilities,” he said, adding that the league is in close communication with BC Hockey, Hockey Canada and ViaSport BC “on all the issues” surrounding the next hockey season.
The BCHL announced in April that a 54-game season would begin in October, while the PJHL has not yet released its schedule for the 2021-22 season.