Sportsnet’s Elliotte Friedman is reporting that NHL locker rooms, starting today, will no longer be open to the media as the league tries to protect itself from the coronavirus. All interviews moving forward will be conducted in a formal press conference area.
The change was made due to a recommendation from the United States’ Centers for Disease Control. The NBA, MLB, and MLS are expected to follow suit.
The locker rooms closing comes as over 350 people in the United States have contracted the disease, including three people in Maryland
Starting today, @NHL will close dressing rooms to media, on recommendation of Centers for Disease Control (@CDCgov) in effort to stop the spread of coronavirus. NBA, MLB + MLS are expected to follow. Media availabilities will be conducted in formal press conference area.
— Elliotte Friedman (@FriedgeHNIC) March 7, 2020
According to ESPN’s Emily Kaplan, the NHL has also banned international travel for league office employees.
While the league is closing the locker rooms, the San Jose Sharks will host their game against the Ottawa Senators at SAP Center tonight despite six new coronavirus cases in Santa Clara County. The CDC recommended that “at this time, we recommend postponing or canceling mass gatherings and large community events where large numbers of people are within arm’s length of one another.”
Internationally, the IIHF announced on Saturday that they are canceling the Women’s World Championship being held in Halifax and Truro, Nova Scotia from March 31 to April 10, 2020.
Due to the ongoing spread of the coronavirus (COVID-19), the IIHF Council has agreed today to cancel the 2020 IIHF Ice Hockey Women’s World Championship, following a recommendation by public health experts. Story: https://t.co/5FgkPv7VrE pic.twitter.com/i82Cjo3Ta9
— IIHF (@IIHFHockey) March 7, 2020
The World Series-winning Washington Nationals also announced a new autograph policy where players will no longer sign fans’ personal items or shake hands.
Based on recommendations issued by MLB, the CDC, and the World Health Organization, the Nationals are making some changes to the way that we approach autographs at Spring Training.
Out of an abundance of caution, all Nationals personnel, including players and coaches, have been advised to avoid shaking hands and/or exchanging items (i.e. pens, balls, jerseys, etc). For the time being, Nationals players will pre-sign items and will distribute them to fans. Items will be distributed periodically to fans before and during the game.
As a result, the Nationals have adapted the way Spring Training Signature Sundays are conducted. For all remaining Spring Training Signature Sunday events, fans who obtain vouchers will no longer be able to bring personal items for players to autograph. Instead, Nationals players will sign a team provided item (i.e. autograph card, program, etc). Fan Photos or items other than the team provided item will not be accommodated.
The Nationals care about the safety of our fans – we encourage our fans to also follow the guidelines provided by the public health authorities regarding extra care and attention.
Based on recommendations issued by MLB, the CDC, and the World Health Organization, the Nationals are making some changes to the way the we approach autographs at Spring Training.
— Washington Nationals (@Nationals) March 7, 2020
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