This document was developed alongside paediatric physicians with a specialization in infectious disease from a major Canadian hospital as well as public health guidance and leadership from Toronto Public Health. Their expertise assisted in determining the stages and protocols outlined in this document.
Forward from the Greater Toronto Hockey League.
On March 12, 2020, the 2019-20 hockey season came to a premature end as Hockey Canada, the Ontario Hockey Federation (OHF) and the Greater Toronto Hockey League (GTHL) programs were cancelled due to the coronavirus pandemic. COVID-19 has impacted every Canadian province and territory, and this has created a very different landscape in our daily lives.
With a focus on the health of our players and the changing needs of our hockey families, the goal of the Game Plan is to provide a comprehensive framework for getting our game back up and running across the GTA in a safe and secure environment.
While these unique circumstances present many challenges, they also present opportunities to create not just a new normal, but a new better.
In alignment with Hockey Canada’s Safety Guidelines and the Ontario government’s Guidance for facilities for sports and recreational fitness activities during COVID-19, the GTHL has developed a return-to-hockey framework specific to our circumstances here in the GTHL. The Game Plan is a fluid and living document that will require revisions as we move into the fall and throughout the 2020-21 season. This plan has been developed to assist our Clubs, Associations, and volunteers and families in getting our players safely back on the ice. The health and safety of our members and their families have been our number one priority throughout this planning process. Hygiene, return to-play protocols, and the use of facilities must be aligned with the restrictions and guidelines as established by the Chief Medical Officers of Health for Ontario, as well as for Mississauga, Markham, Vaughan and Toronto.
The GTHL would like to thank Hockey Canada and the OHF for giving the GTHL permission to use content from their return to play guidelines. We would also like to thank the team of paediatric Infectious Disease Specialists who assisted us along with the staff at Toronto Public Health. Their time and expertise have been and will continue to be vital to ensuring the safest possible return to hockey for our players and families.
We would like to thank the GTHL Members, Board and Staff for working through this crisis, knowing that when we are on the other side of this, we will all be stronger as a result.
Executive Director & Chief Operating Officer
Table of Contents
Section 1: Foreword from the Greater Toronto Hockey League (GTHL)
Section 2: Checklist to Success
Section 3: GTHL Safety & Health Guidelines 5
Section 4: Screening
Section 5: Safety Rep
Section 6: Training
Section 7: Compliance
Section 8: Insurance for members of the GTHL
Section 9: Facilities
Section 10: Non-Sanctioned Hockey
Appendix A: COVID-19 Return to Sport Guidelines
Appendix B: Screening Tool
Appendix C: Screening Tool Registry
Appendix D: Hockey Structure
Appendix E: OHF Game Play Structure
Appendix F: OHF Rules for 3 on 3, 4 on 4
Appexdix G: Resources
The information included in this document is current to the time of publishing and is the minimum standard for Return to Hockey within the Greater Toronto Hockey League’s jurisdiction. The document is aligned with the Public Health Guidelines of the Government of Ontario and the Public Health Units of the City of Toronto, the Region of Peel and York Region, as well as Hockey Canada’s Return to Hockey Safety Guidelines and the Ontario Hockey Federation’s Return to Hockey Framework. However, recommendations may change depending on local, provincial and national circumstances; local resources should also be consulted for up to date information. Where anything within this document conflicts (i.e.: is less restrictive) with Public Health requirements, including regulations, members must comply with Public Health requirements and adapt as required.
Return to hockey is not without risks, including potential exposure to COVID-19. While the GTHL is making all reasonable efforts to minimize the risk of exposure to the disease through the development and implementation of this Game Plan and Return to Hockey Strategy with guidance from health authorities, the GTHL does not and cannot guarantee that there will be no risk of exposure and transmission to those who participate in on or off-ice activities
As information changes, this document will be amended as necessary, and the revisions will be circulated to the Greater Toronto Hockey League membership in a timely manner.
Checklist to Success
“Organization” means any Club, Division, Division member or Affiliated Group as defined in GTHL Rules
and Regulations. An Organization may also include any league or similar grouping as such is envisaged in
the Framework for Reopening our Province issued by the Ontario Ministry of Health.
“Team” means any group that includes players, Team Officials, on-ice instructors, volunteers, Organization
administrators etc. who gather for an GTHL-sanctioned hockey activity on and/or off the ice and
“Participant” means any one of them.
“Team Official” means the Team’s coach, assistant coach, manager, trainer or other team official registered
with the League.
“Medical Advisory Team” – A team of experts from Toronto Public Health and leading paediatric infectious
disease specialists from a major Canadian hospital.
Review & Follow
- Game Plan
- Hockey Canada Return to Hockey Safety Guidelines
- Ontario Hockey Federation Return to Hockey Framework
- COVID-19 Return to Sport Guidelines (Appendix A)
- Assign one or more Organization Safety Rep(s) by September 30.
- Assign one or more Team Safety Rep(s) by September 30.
- Organization Safety Reps to meet with the local facility operator(s), obtain their reopening plan adhering to the COVID-19 Return to Sport Guidelines (Appendix A)
- Team Safety Reps (on/off the ice) Protocol:
- Team communications responsibilities specific to COVID-19 Facilities Guidelines
- Meet with Organization Safety Rep
- Explain the role of the Team Safety Rep to players and their parents/guardians and to Team Officials
- Complete/collect Screening Template (Appendix B) for each Participant and each player’s parent/ guardian/caregiver before each training session and keep records of the results of these submissions.
- Complete Team Registry (Appendix C)
- At the Facility
- Follow the Game Plan
- Follow the individual facility’s specific reopening COVID-19 Facility Guidelines
- Follow GTHL Hockey Structure Guidelines (Appendix D)
- Team communications responsibilities specific to COVID-19 Facilities Guidelines
Be safe and have fun!
GTHL Health and Safety Guidelines
These guidelines are meant to support GTHL Organizations, Team Officials, and stakeholders in returning to their hockey-related activities. This includes, but is not limited to, associated on and off-ice activities (including administrative), coaching, and adhering to the approved COVID-19 Return to Sport guidelines (Appendix A).
Please note that each facility where hockey-related activities take place will have its own specific guidelines related to people coming into the building, use of dressing rooms, washrooms, showers, requirements for face coverings, etc. (see section 9 of this document).
However, concerning actual hockey-related activities, the following must be demonstrated:
Environment and Expectations
- Arrive at the facility at a designated time for the hockey-related activity. Do not arrive early.
- Leave the facility immediately following the hockey-related activity. Do not stay beyond the designated time.
- Physical distancing of two (2) metres (six feet) will be maintained before, during, and after hockey related activities, except where otherwise stated in Hockey Canada’s
- Safety Guidelines and/or the Ontario Hockey Federation’s Return to Hockey Framework.
- We recommend only one parent or caregiver accompany a player to a hockey-related activity.
- We encourage parents and guardians of players at levels U13 and above to not enter the facility unless necessary. They should only drop their players off and pick them up.
- We encourage hockey-related activities (including parent meetings and administrative procedures like registration) be conducted electronically. Weather permitting, meetings should be held outside. If that is not possible, these activities must be done in such a way to maintain physical distancing as much as possible, and in groups not exceeding 10 individuals
- Carpooling is discouraged. If carpooling cannot be avoided, it is strongly recommended that all passengers wear a mask or face covering while in the vehicle.
- Water bottles must be filled at home and labeled with the player’s name. The sharing of water bottles is prohibited.
- The sharing of hockey equipment is prohibited unless it is goaltender equipment at the house league level which has been properly cleaned and disinfected
- Where possible, players and Team Officials should plan to arrive and depart the facility dressed in their hockey equipment.
- While on the ice, players and Team Officials must always leave their helmet and gloves on.
- Face masks must be worn at all times by players and Team Officials. Players can remove their face masks during physical activity
- To limit touchpoints during and after hockey-related activities, Team Officials should keep, distribute, and collect each piece of on-ice equipment that belongs to their team (e.g.: coaching whiteboard, cones, pucks). Team Officials’ responsibilities include:
- Minimizing gatherings while instructing from the whiteboard, and keeping participants physically distanced as much as possible.
Personal Protective Precautions
- The health screening of a team’s players, Team Officials and administrators is mandatory. A health screening registry must be maintained. This can be done electronically or in-person prior to every single activity. It should be noted that if multiple activities are being held during the same day, one health screening will suffice.
- Any follow-up action from the screening process must follow the details set out in Sections 4 and 5 of the Game Plan.
- Hand hygiene and respiratory etiquette must be adhered to in accordance with the Guidelines issued by the Public Health Agency of Canada, the Ontario Ministry of Health, Toronto Public Health or local public health agency and Hockey Canada.
- Whenever physical distancing cannot be maintained; the use of a mask is required or face covering is required. These situations could include entering or leaving a facility, dressing room, spectator area, etc.
- Masks or face coverings are required in all indoor public spaces, except while performing physical activity.
- GTHL will make the Game Plan available to stakeholders via:
- The GTHL website.
- Direct emails to all Organizations and other stakeholders. Communications materials will be distributed through social media, on-site at facility, etc.
- Organizations and Teams:
• MUST abide by the Game Plan.
• We recommend having individual Organization plans that are aligned with the Game Plan and the local facility guidelines.
• The Team Safety Rep must walk through the details of the Game Plan and the COVID-19 guidelines of all the applicable local facilities before the season begins. This meeting is to take place with parents/ caregivers, Team Officials, and administrators. The following protective measures to keep everyone safe can help reduce the risk of infection or spreading infection to others.
- Keep two metre (6 feet) distance from others
- Wear a mask or face covering in indoor public spaces and when you can’t keep your physical distance. Masks can be removed during physical activity.
- Clean your hand often. Use soap and water for at least 20 seconds, especially after using the washroom and before and after play if hands are visibly dirty.
- Use an alcohol-based (70-90 percent) hand sanitizer if soap and water are not available
- Avoid touching your face, especially your eyes, nose, mouth, with unwashed hands
- Cough or sneeze with your elbow or a tissue, not your hand. Immediately throw the tissue in the garbage and wash or sanitize your hands
- Clean and disinfect frequently touched objects and surfaces
- Avoid close contact with people who are sick
- Stay home if you are feeling unwell
- Download the COVID Alert app so you can be notified directly if you have been in close contact with someone who was contagious with COVID-19
Prior to attending arenas or team functions, every Participant must do the self-assessment for COVID-19 on the Ontario Ministry of Health website and if they do not pass the assessment they should not attend until they pass the assessment and do not have signs and symptoms of COVID-19.
All Participants should be aware of signs and symptoms of COVID-19, including:
- Fever (i.e. chills, sweats)
- Cough that’s new or worsening
- Difficulty breathing
- Hoarse voice
- Difficulty swallowing
- Sore throat *
- Runny nose *
- Stuffy or congested nose *
- Sneezing *
- Loss of taste or smell
- Nausea, vomiting, diarrhea
- Headache that’s unusual or long lasting
- Shortness of breath
- Muscle aches that are unusual or long lasting
- Unusual fatigue or lack of energy
- Not feeling well
* Not related to seasonal allergies or other known causes or conditions
If you answer yes to one or more of these symptoms, please self-isolate and call Ontario Telehealth at 1-866-797-0000 for further assessment by a nurse who will direct you to the most appropriate level of care such as your healthcare provider or a COVID-19 Assessment Centre.
You will not be allowed to participate in an GTHL-sanctioned activity unless cleared to do so by a healthcare provider or Assessment Centre and you are symptom-free for 24 hours.
Participant screening and registry:
Participants must be screened by the Team Safety Rep prior to entering the facility for any (on or off-ice) session for symptoms of COVID-19 as per the requirements of the Ontario Chief Medical Officer of Health. The screening process could be completed in-person or electronically prior to the session. This information and the screening requirements will be covered in detail during the training session.
Participants exhibiting signs and symptoms consistent with COVID-19 should not be present at any facility. This includes anyone attending the training session such as players, Team Officials, volunteers, parents/guardians, Organization members, etc.
Screening questions are updated regularly by the Ontario Ministry of Health. Currently, a positive screen is any one (1) on the list of symptoms updated at https://www.ontario.ca/page/covid-19-stop-spread#section-0
If a participant has symptoms:
The following are recommended steps for players, Team Officials, parents and guardians for participants who are sick or showing symptoms of COVID-19. It is important to remember that public health authority guidelines and advice from physicians must be followed in any situation where a participant is sick. For participants or parents/guardians of participants who are sick or showing symptoms of COVID-19, they are to advise the Team’s coaching staff that they will not be attending and will immediately follow the steps below.
These records are to be maintained by the Team Safety Rep for a period of 30 days. Records are confidential and must be securely stored (e.g. locked in a drawer) and be disposed of in a secure manner (e.g. shredding)