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Nova Scotia plans to allow limited crowds at women's world hockey championship

Canada players (L) celebrate a goal against the USA during a preliminary Women's Ice Hockey match between USA and Canada at the Kwandong Hockey Centre during the PyeongChang Winter Olympic Games 2018, in Gangneung, South Korea, Feb. 15, 2018. EPA/JAVIER ETXEZARRETA

HALIFAX _ Nova Scotia’s top doctor says plans are in place to stage the women’s world hockey championship in the province next month with limited spectators.

However, chief medical officer of health Robert Strang adds the province has the ability to cancel the May 6-16 tournament or change plans if the COVID-19 situation becomes a bigger problem in Nova Scotia.

Strang says all 10 teams in Halifax and Truro must participate in a 14-day quarantine, which starts as an individual quarantine before expanding to include other team members.

It is a similar plan to what has been used at the world junior hockey championship over Christmas in Edmonton and the ongoing curling bubble in Calgary.

Unlike those events and ongoing NHL games in Canada, however, the women’s worlds will allow limited crowds.

Strang says the event will have the same regulations as current junior teams in the province. The Quebec Major Junior Hockey League’s Halifax Mooseheads have allowed a maximum 1,500 fans into 10,595-capacity Scotiabank Arena for recent games, while the Maritime Junior Hockey League’s Truro Bearcats have had a maximum of 300 fans at recent contests at 3,100-capacity Ruth Eastlink Community Centre.

“Whatever the rules are based on where we’re at based on the epidemiology for spectators would apply to this tournament,” Strang said.

The Canadian team starts its selection camp in Halifax on Wednesday and is operating under the same quarantine plan.

Strang said the teams won’t have exposure to anyone outside their bubbles for the quarantine period.

“This is all contingent on epidemiology,” Strang said. “If for some reason, things go completely sideways, we will adjust as necessary like we did a year ago when we on short notice cancelled the same tournament. We have that ability and we’ll always put the protection of Nova Scotians first ahead of any event, including an international hockey tournament.”

The 2020 championship in Nova Scotia was cancelled and this year’s tournament was postponed from April to May.

Nova Scotia reported six new cases of COVID-19 Tuesday and 45 active cases across the province, well below provinces which have NHL teams.

Canada is scheduled to open the world championship against Finland on May 6. Russia, Switzerland and the United States are also in the host country’s pool.

The Americans defeated host Finland for gold at the most recent women’s worlds in 2019. Canada didn’t reach the final for the first time in the history of the tournament and took bronze.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published April 13, 2021.