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Update on Return to Play 1/24/21

By jp, 01/24/21, 9:45AM EST

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Many of you may have seen or heard about the guidance that was released by Governor Cuomo stating high risk sports can resume competition effective February 1.  I would like to clarify this guidance and answer some of the questions surrounding this change.

From the NY Forward Guidance on Sports and Recreation:

Effective February 1, 2021, participants in higher risk sports and recreation activities may partake in individual or distanced group training and organized no/low-contact group training and, further, may partake in other types of play, including competitions and tournaments, only as permitted by the respective local health authorities (i.e., county health departments). o Local health authorities should consider the following factors in authorizing or continuing to prohibit higher risk sports and recreational activities as, in many areas, these factors may weigh against permitting such activities: ▪ whether there has been a more-transmissible variant of COVID-19 identified in the area, ▪ local rates of COVID-19 transmission or rate of positivity, and ▪ local ability to monitor and enforce compliance. • 

For all lower, moderate, and higher risk sports, travel for practice or play is prohibited outside of the region or contiguous counties/regions. 

Interstate travel for practice or play is strongly discouraged and, if undertaken, must strictly adhere to the requirements of the State's travel advisory. 

 Travel for practice or play to, or from, any area within New York that has been designated as a red or orange zone may only be permitted following consultation with the respective state or local health authorities with consideration of the abovementioned factors. Travel for practice or play to, or from, any area within New York that has been designated as a yellow zone is permitted so long as it adheres to all applicable DOH guidance.

Before we jump into games on February 1, we would like to break this down for all of you.

  1. Effective February 1, games and tournaments can resume IF the county health department allows it.  At this time we do not have a statement from any health departments on their position.  Until we hear from the various departments of health, we cannot begin game play.
  2. If games are allowed, much of Erie County is in an orange zone.  We do not know what this means for games in Erie County.
  3. Travel in the state is restricted.  Travel is restricted outside of the region or contiguous counties/regions.  The wording of this statement is very confusing.  There is a big difference between contiguous counties and contiguous regions.  It is unclear if the Finger Lakes Region is going to be an option at this time which would include Rochester teams. 


We are awaiting interpretations of these changes from NYSAHA and WNYAHL.  If you have not heard, these two groups and a consortium of rink owners filed 3 separate lawsuits against the state on Friday afternoon prompting the Governor's change in guidance.  The lawsuits will continue to ensure hockey will not be shut down at a later date as all three are seeking ice hockey to be re-classified as a moderate risk sport. 

While this is a positive step towards game play, we are far from home.  As we work with NYSAHA, and WNYAHL and await answers from ECDOH, we will keep your team coaches and managers up to speed on what will happen next and any restrictions that may be placed on the game and travel.

Thank you for your patience and understanding.