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Hockey Rinks in N.H. Ordered to Close After Wave of COVID-19 Outbreaks

Sarah Gibson/NHPR

Indoor hockey rinks in New Hampshire are being ordered to shut down for two weeks after being linked to a spate of COVID-19 outbreaks.

Health officials say at least 158 youth and adult players have tested positive during the past two months, including players from 23 different teams. 

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“This is not a decision taken lightly, by any means,” said Gov. Chris Sununu during a press conference Thursday. “But we have six outbreaks now. We’ve been working with this community for a couple of months, it’s not getting better.”

The shutdown applies to both youth and collegiate teams, as well as recreational skating.  

Health officials say infections associated with hockey are responsible for possible COVID-19 exposures in at least 24 different K-12 schools in the state.

“So hockey has not only been a high activity for acquiring COVID-19, but the people diagnosed with COVID-19 associated with hockey, and the people associated with these outbreaks, have likely led to other community exposures,” said State Epidemiologist Dr. Benjamin Chan.

The state is crafting new restrictions that will be released before hockey is allowed to resume at indoor rinks on Oct. 30. 

“We are going to come back with some new guidance, be able to take a break, disinfect the facilities, ask everyone to get tested, and I think come back and hit the reset button,” said Sununu.

Earlier this month, a youth hockey referee from Maine tested positive for COVID-19 days after officiating a weekend of games in that state and in New Hampshire, potentially exposing up to 400 people. 

In September, at least a dozen cases of COVID-19 were linked to a hockey training camp in Nashua.

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Todd started as a news correspondent with NHPR in 2009. He spent nearly a decade in the non-profit world, working with international development agencies and anti-poverty groups. He holds a master’s degree in public administration from Columbia University.

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