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The arena: Talks are ongoing as vaccination rates improve in both countries – and President Joe Biden and Prime Minister Justin Trudeau come under pressure to ease restrictions introduced almost 15 months ago.
Gamers, like other non-essential travelers, would be subject to a 14-day quarantine without exception.
First ice hockey: The NHL matter is more urgent with the playoffs going on.
The winner of the all-Canadian division, who will be determined by June 13th at the latest, will compete against an American team in the next round. In order for the Canadian team – either the Montreal Canadiens or the Winnipeg Jets – to host their American opponents, the NHL needs a border clearance.
“The decision will certainly be carefully considered,” said Mendicino. “A strict duty of care must be exercised in relation to the proposals put forward by our public health officials in the NHL. We will receive and examine this advice very carefully before we make a decision. “
Political pressure: A prominent lawmaker has tried to use the NHL talks to encourage authorities to ease border restrictions on others.
Rep. Brian Higgins (DN.Y.) said this week that any state exemption for NHL players at the border should also be considered in order to reunite families separated by the pandemic measures.
Then baseball: The Toronto Blue Jays opened their 2021 season with home games at their spring training facility in Dunedin, Florida. Earlier this week the club moved to Sahlen Field in Buffalo, NY, where it played during last year’s pandemic.
The Jays continue to hope that if there is an improvement in public health, they can return to Toronto before the end of the season.
Mendicino said the Canadian government had “very preliminary talks” with Major League Baseball.
“As in any other case where a proposal is made to derogate from existing health protocols, we seek advice from our officials before making a decision,” he said. “And that will certainly also be carefully examined.”
Mark Shapiro, the president and CEO of Blue Jays, told reporters Tuesday that recent conversations at all levels – local, provincial and federal – have been more consistent, substantive and “certainly more positive.”
“There is a basic level of optimism that vaccine prevalence and the effects of vaccines are being watched,” Shapiro said. “But I think despite the encouragement and despite the optimism … the obstacle remains the limit.”
He added that until the restrictions are lifted, any proposal will challenge the creation of a range of circumstances that will allow cross-border travel for players, families and visiting teams.
“It’s not impossible, but it’s not easy,” he said. “Until the border opens, there are big challenges when we return to Toronto to play.”