BOSTON (CBS) – The governors of New England and New Jersey announced Thursday they have reached an agreement to suspend interstate youth hockey among public and private schools through at least the end of the year.

The decision comes in an effort to slow the spread of COVID-19.

Massachusetts Gov. Charlie Baker, New Hampshire Gov. Chris Sununu, Maine Gov. Janet Mills, Rhode Island Gov. Gina Raimondo, Vermont Gov. Phil Scott, Connecticut Gov. Ned Lamont, and New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy released a joint statement on the decision.

Interstate competition will be suspended effective Saturday “through at minimum” December 31.

“The actual act of playing hockey – that may have been a minor contributor to what was going on – but the big issue there was all of the socialization that was going on when large groups of kids and adults would show up at a rink,” said Baker. “There’s just a tremendous amount of informal, no mask, no distance socialization that went on between the kids and the adults.”

Baker said the region wants to come up with a matching set of rules and guidelines around hockey. He said it will take several weeks to develop, which is why the shutdown was put into place.

The order will not impact college, professional, or U.S. National Team activities.

“Given the support for this agreement from our regional neighbors, New Hampshire made the practical decision to join this effort,” Sununu said in a statement. “We remain optimistic that our newly issued Hockey and Ice Arena guidance will continue to ensure a safe and successful hockey season for New Hampshire hockey players.”

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