BOSTON (CBS) — Gov. Charlie Baker said Tuesday that youth sporting events like ice hockey “need to recognize and respect the virus” as cases climb in Massachusetts amid the pandemic. Indoor ice rinks in the state are shut down through Nov. 7, with at least 30 clusters and 110 coronavirus cases linked to youth hockey.
“I know the shutdown wasn’t welcome news. . . but youth hockey needs to make some changes,” Baker said at a news conference. “We look forward to working with them to create the kind of framework that will be safe for kids and for parents.”
The order to shut down came just as about 50,000 kids and coaches were ramping up for the season. Baker said the problem with youth hockey isn’t just the game itself, but rather all-day tournaments where kids and adults are interacting indoors for prolonged periods.
“It’s likely coming from all the activity around hockey, and some irresponsible behavior from parents and coaches,” he said. “Parents and coaches have an obligation to protect their kids, and themselves, and their teammates.”
“Youth hockey needs to make some changes,” says Gov. Charlie Baker, who closed Massachusetts rinks for 2 weeks. He says coaches & parents need to address this w/kids. “It’s about a lot more than just the time on the ice. “ #wbz pic.twitter.com/l31EPNmbR0
— Christina Hager (@HagerWBZ) October 27, 2020
The cases impact at least 66 cities and towns in the state, and Baker said the actual numbers are likely even worse.
“The data is real and probably undercounted due to the lack of cooperation by some of the adults who our contact tracing team reached out to,” he said. “Most teams wouldn’t make rosters available so that we can follow up with the kids and the families on the team.”
Health & Human Services Sec. Marylou Sudders said updated hockey guidelines will require teams to cooperate with contact tracers – otherwise teams could be shut down. She said there have been instances where coaches told families and players not to respond to contact tracers. In other cases, players who were supposed to be in quarantine were told they could play for another team.
“That’s obviously not quarantine,” she said.
New Hampshire enacted a similar pause on youth hockey, and ice rink activities are set to resume there on Friday with new testing and face covering requirements.