December 9, 2020
To the Members of our Michigan Hockey Community:
On the afternoon of Monday, December 7, 2020, Governor Gretchen Whitmer announced the official extension of the Michigan Department of Health & Human Services (MDHHS) Epidemic Order, in response to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. The extended pause will take place from Wednesday, December 9th through Sunday, December 20th.
While most of the updated order maintains the status quo, there are some notable revisions that directly impact our hockey activity. Although the updated order continues to prohibit organized sports gatherings (i.e. practices and games), ice rinks in Michigan are allowed to re-open for limited activities starting, Wednesday, December 9th. In addition, Section 4(e) of the December 7, 2020 Epidemic Order states that:
“Gatherings at indoor and outdoor ice skating rinks are prohibited, except for individual exercise or one-on-one instruction, and occupancy is limited to 20 persons per 1,000 square feet, including within the exercise space. Gatherings for the purpose of open skating are permitted only at outdoor rinks.”
Given the parameters summarized in this order, the Michigan Amateur Hockey Association (MAHA) gives the following guidance to our local program members:
1) Ice may be purchased to conduct limited on-ice activities for the duration of the extended MDHHS Epidemic Order (Wednesday, December 9th – Sunday, December 20th). The on-ice focus should be limited to individual, one-on-one instruction to provide exercise, individual skills and non-contact activities for local program participants, within the Epidemic Order’s occupancy limitations (no spectators). Facial coverings are required at all times in the rink, both on-ice and off-ice. (NOTE: Local governments may impose more stringent restrictions, based on local conditions)
2) Games, scrimmages and tournaments will not be sanctioned in Michigan during this time period. Please note that any local associations or teams, that are discovered to be engaging in unsanctioned activity during the pause, will be in violation of its organization’s Affiliate Agreement and subject to disciplinary action.
3) The MAHA does not encourage, or recommend, out-of-state travel during this period. As a “sports organizer,” as defined under the Epidemic Order, the MAHA is not able to participate in any such gatherings in any matter. During the extended pause in activity, as required under the December 7th, 2020 Epidemic Order, our Interstate Travel Notification Form will be suspended for use.
a. The MAHA continues to caution local associations and teams that they may be defined as a “sports organizer,” and subject to penalties under this Emergency Order, should they organize gatherings of any kind during this period. Association Boards, Coaches & Managers are also potentially increasing their liability, if they continue to organize participation during this time.
b. Those organizations or teams that insist on fulfilling out-of-state travel plans are implored to proceed with heightened awareness and caution. Specifically:
i. Teams are expected to maintain heightened awareness of the evolving circumstances, pertaining to local and state government guidelines and restrictions, in any market they intend to travel to. Based on evolving risk mitigation strategies across the country, out-of-state activities are subject to change.
ii. Teams are required to adhere to all local and state government guidelines, imposed upon their travel destination. It is the responsibility of the team to identify those guidelines and proceeding accordingly. Furthermore, please continue to be mindful of group gatherings outside of the rink, and practice risk mitigation strategies out-of-state, as well as in-state.
iii. As previously noted, the State of Michigan’s ongoing navigation of the COVID-19 pandemic may cause varying degrees of discomfort for families in your organization. We expect that all teams and associations respect the wishes of any families who choose not to follow through with scheduled team activities, and/or travel accommodations. Given the evolving circumstances of the COVID-19 pandemic, participants and families should not be subject to undue influence.
The Michigan Amateur Hockey Association will continue to provide updates, as new information becomes available. We are optimistic that the steps being taken will eventually lead us back to full capacity in our hockey activities. As always, we appreciate your patience and support!