By Ian Oland and Peter Hassett
On Wednesday, DC Health Department officials recommended that all “nonessential mass gatherings” of 1,000 people or more in the district to be postponed or canceled in March due to growing number of coronavirus cases in the area.
Despite the recommendation, Monumental Sports and Entertainment has announced that Capitals and Wizards “games will go on as scheduled and be open to spectators.”
MSE has announced, however, that “team and player appearances at community events will be canceled.”
Update: March 12, 5:45 PM: Ted Leonsis has made a statement on his blog:
In the case of the recommendation issued by DC Health (a department under the Mayor’s jurisdiction) to cancel events with 1,000 or more people yesterday morning, we immediately informed the NBA and NHL of that announcement, and we strongly advocated for permission to hold games at our arena without fans. But a recommendation from the city health department was not a mandate or ban and the leagues decided to continue as planned. It wasn’t until later that it became clear that the seasons would be suspended.
The first documented case of COVID-19 in the United States appeared in mid-January. Since then, the coronavirus has become community-spread throughout the United States, with several cases in the DMV area. The disease is reportedly of particular danger to senior populations and persons with compromised immune systems. The CDC so far has issued only interim guidance for mass gatherings. That guidance urges event holders to work with their local public health departments.
And just today, DC’s local health departments urged the cancellation of mass gatherings.
BREAKING: D.C. Health officials are urging the cancellation of all non-essential mass gatherings through the end of the month because of coronavirus. That includes conferences, conventions and entertainment events drawing more than 1,000 people https://t.co/doEgkxIML2
— Fenit Nirappil (@FenitN) March 11, 2020
Several hours later, the Caps’ parent organization, Monumental Sports and Entertainment, acknowledged the local public health department’s recommendation and announced they will not be following it.
A Statement from Monumental Sports & Entertainment https://t.co/O5OKwRYSTq
— Monumental Sports (@MSE) March 11, 2020
Without explanation, MSE is not abiding by either the CDC guidance or the local health authority’s recommendation.
Also on Wednesday, the World Health Organization officially classified coronavirus as a global pandemic.
We will update this story if there are further developments.
From Monumental Sports and Entertainment:
The health and safety of our employees, players and guests is paramount. We have formed a cross-functional Coronavirus task force and are monitoring updates and following guidance from the CDC, WHO and local governmental authorities. We are undertaking additional cleanings in high traffic areas across all of our properties and encourage all to follow the recommended CDC guidelines on personal hygiene and wellness. We are participating in local government task forces and working closely with the leagues and will continue to watch the situation closely, assessing additional measures as they may become necessary.
The major professional leagues, including the National Basketball Association (NBA) and National Hockey League (NHL), have jointly issued additional guidelines, which the Washington Wizards and the Washington Capitals will follow, limiting access to all team locker rooms to essential personnel. Following League guidance, team and player appearances at community events will be cancelled.
Today, the DC Department of Health recommended “that non-essential mass gatherings, including conferences and conventions, be postponed or cancelled.” Per DC Health, mass gatherings are defined as events where 1,000 or more people are congregating in a specific location.
At the current direction of the NBA and NHL, our games will go on as scheduled and be open to spectators. We are in constant contact with both leagues and should they update their guidance, we will update the public accordingly.
Similarly, all concerts and events being hosted at Capital One Arena are currently planned to go on as scheduled at the direction of their respective promoters. We are in contact with event organizers and should they update their status, we will update the public accordingly.
Monumental Sports & Entertainment encourages fans to follow the recommendations of the CDC and their state or local health authorities (e.g., DC, Virginia and Maryland) including staying home if they are feeling sick (except to get medical care), regardless of their symptoms. Based on guidance from the CDC, individuals in vulnerable populations should avoid crowds as much as possible. For fans attending events, we remind you to follow good hygiene and healthy habits recommended by the CDC including:
• Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds, especially after going to the bathroom; before eating; and, after blowing your nose, coughing, or sneezing.
• If soap and water are not readily available, use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer with at least 60% alcohol. Dispensers are placed around Capital One Arena in convenient locations.
• Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth.
• Cover your cough or sneeze with a tissue, then throw the tissue in the trash and clean your hands.
• If you begin to feel ill, including with fever, cough or shortness of breath, you should leave the event. If you are not able to leave the event, you should seek assistance from guest services.
In addition, we ask that individuals who have been diagnosed with COVID-19 or are otherwise at risk due to potential exposure to COVID-19 follow CDC guidelines by refraining from attendance at community events. In addition, we ask that Individuals who are elderly and at-risk consider staying home.
We will provide additional information as we learn more on this evolving issue. Please continue to check http://www.monumentalsports.com/news for the latest updates.
Russian Machine Never Breaks is not associated with the Washington Capitals; Monumental Sports, the NHL, or its properties. Not even a little bit.
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