The NIHL’s Streaming Series has been given the go-ahead despite the new lockdown measures which will be introduced on Thursday, but the EIHA’s Return to Play programme has suffered a setback.
The games, involving National League trio Swindon Wildcats, Milton Keynes Lightning and Sheffield Steeldogs, were announced last week as a test event with a view to getting something of a season organised.
And although rinks and other leisure facilities are to close, the Department for Digital, Culture, Media & Sport (DCMS) have agreed the games, due to start on November 14th, can proceed behind closed doors and in agreement with the rinks due to host games.
This means that the @NIHLhockey test events, the Streaming Series, will go ahead as planned with @MKLightningIHC @SteeldogsIHC and @SwinWildcats playing home and away behind closed doors over three weekends.
Stream info: https://t.co/w2Gv8kV708
— English Ice Hockey (@EIHA_Official) November 2, 2020
A statement on the EIHA website read: “Following the Prime Minister’s statement on Saturday night, the English Ice Hockey Association have been in regular contact with the Department for Digital, Culture, Media & Sport (DCMS), UK Sport, Sport England and representatives from other sports affected by the new restrictions.
“It has been confirmed that ice rinks will close to the public from close of business on Wednesday, November 4. However clubs classified as ‘elite sport’ under the DCMS criteria can continue behind closed doors with their respective rinks’ agreement.”
All three clubs have met the ‘elite sport’ criteria and they have agreed with their venues that the games can take place behind closed doors.
And while it’s good news for those clubs and their fans, the new guidelines, announced by Prime Minister Boris Johnson over the weekend, have meant the Return to Play programme has been returned to Level 1.
From Thursday, this means on-ice action must stop for now, for seniors, juniors or disabled athletes and dispensation for under 18s and disabled athletes to train without restriction has been removed.
The protocols do allow for training outdoors only in family/support bubble groups plus one other person from outside that group, no mixing with other groups, two-metre social distancing in effect, no contact and the cleaning of equipment thoroughly after use.
Ticketing information on the Streaming Series can be found here.