As you know, on Thursday the Michigan Governor issued Executive Orders 175 and 176 that provide for a process to restart hockey and other youth sports in Michigan. Part of that EO requires that all athletes except swimmers where a “facial covering” while on the “field of play.” EO 2020-176.7(b). You may also be aware that the USA Hockey Safety Committee has published information on helmet face shields and masks that indicate that the CDC and WHO believe wearing a cloth mask during high intensity aerobic activity is not recommended. The Michigan Department of Health and Human Services (MDHHS) has issued similar guidance. While the CDC, WHO an MDHHS have provided recommendations, the Governor’s current order seems inconsistent with those recommendations, as well as similar guidance from the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services (MDHHS). We also do not know whether the exceptions in Executive Order 153 addressing when a face covering is not required apply to Executive Order 176.
MAHA, and others organizations, are seeking further clarification on EO 2020-176. Until such time as the government issues a clarification or change this is what we must follow if we plan to resume play on September 9. MAHA is not requiring any more than what is set out in EO 2020-176. Some of the feedback we have received indicates that other organizations would not require this Executive Order to be followed. I can assure you that they’re required to follow these same guidelines, and I would be very leery of an organization that is not taking this order and the safety of participants seriously.
While wearing facial covering may not be ideal in the opinion of some, similar standards are being enforced on DI college football teams that are practicing as well as in youth hockey in Colorado and Massachusetts (face offs only). We aware of at least one hockey equipment manufacturer that has facial coverings that attach to the inside of a mask with may be a more preferential option for our sport. Unfortunately, we are hearing that product will not be available until early October.
MAHA wants our membership to return to the ice on September 9. To do that we must follow the EO’s that are in place until such time as they change. We have worked hard for months to get hockey back to this point where we can restart activity. At this time, MAHA is of the position that a facial covering is required while on the ice but we expect further clarification in the near future. MAHA believes this can be accomplished in a number of ways and it is up to the participant to comply with current requirements. To ignore Executive Orders could lead to hockey being shut back down before it gets going. As you know this has been a very fluid situation with changes occurring on a regular basis. Parents certainly have the right to withhold participation of the players if they feel the guidelines may cause health issues for their son or daughter.
We will continue to work with the government on these issues and will provide any new guidance/clarification as it becomes available.