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Is it safe to play hockey? Your COVID-19 questions answered


We indicate what you need to know about the pandemic. Send us your questions by e-mail [email protected], and we will answer as many as possible. We publish a selection of answers on our website every weekday, and we also present some of your questions to the experts during the broadcast The national and further CBC News Network. So far, we have received over 47,000 emails from all over the country.

Is it safe to play hockey? Would a full visor protect me?

The NHL plans to resume despite the pandemic-delayed season players test positive for COVID-19. But professional sports leagues aren’t the only ones itching to get back on the ice.

We’ve received reports from rec players like Bob P. in Edmonton asking if wearing a full face visor would protect them and allow them to get back into sports.

The first thing to remember is that each province is in a different phase of reopening and has different rules for the number of people who can get together. So it is important to check your local health guidelines before playing.

If your region allows it, is it really safe?

Our experts say the answer is complicated, because hockey is a high-contact sport.

“Hockey is still difficult because there is a lot of contact and heavy breathing,” says Dr. Zain Chagla, an infectious disease physician at St. Joseph’s Healthcare Hamilton and an associate professor of medicine at McMaster University.

Wearing a full visor is also probably not a surefire way to contain drops.

“Even with a full visor, unless wrapped completely around your face and neck, almost like a diving mask, breath would still come out,” explains Chagla.

And if drops can escape, the risk of transmission increases.

However, wearing a full visor is more effective at reducing the risk than half-face visors or cages, says Dr. Dominik Mertz, an associate professor at McMaster University and an infectious disease physician and hospital epidemiologist at Hamilton Health Sciences.

An infectious disease specialist answers viewers’ questions about the COVID-19 pandemic, including whether to make masks mandatory in public and whether NHL hub cities would be safe. 3:59

“The full-face visor stops the vast majority of the drops emitted by the person wearing it, and also stops most of the drops from others toward the person wearing the full-face visor,” he said.

While it doesn’t offer perfect protection, Mertz says playing hockey with a full face shield “seems like a much lower risk” than other sports with similar close contact.

Research also shows the severity of the concussion may be reduced by using a full face shield.

Does the cooler air temperature in ice rinks protect the virus?

Canadians like Jonathan P. also wonder if the virus will be more common in colder temperatures than warmer ones.

The answer is yes, according to our experts.

“SARS-CoV-2 seems to transmit a little better in a colder, drier environment,” says Dr. Gerald Evans, chair of the Infectious Diseases Department at Queen’s University and attending physician at Kingston General Hospital. “It is very likely that infectious viral particles will remain viable in a colder environment.”

This means that surfaces in the arenas need to be cleaned more often.

“It can last longer on surfaces, which reinforces the need to ensure that surfaces are cleaned regularly,” said Allyson Shephard, manager of Infection Prevention and Control at CHEO, a children’s hospital and research center in Ottawa. “We live in Canada, so this will be important both inside and outside the rinks.”

But Chagla says we should keep in mind that the virus usually passes from person to person through the breath that is spread through our mouth, not through the actual ice.

“If you are still close to the mouth of people who repel, the temperature doesn’t matter and you’re still at risk.”

Is it safe to practice with my band when we are two meters apart?

This question comes from Mary S., who wonders if it is safe for a band to play brass and woodwinds together if they keep their distance.

Band exercises may be a bit tricky.

One of the super spreader events in the early days of the pandemic was a choir rehearsal, after which 45 members of the 56-member ensemble was infected with COVID-19. Two choir members died later.

The experts we spoke to give some tips on how to make band practice safer when playing together.

Mertz says tire practices are “ most likely safe ” as long as you make adjustments to comply with provincial health guidelines.

He recommends “keep your distance from your body and not from the source of droplets, especially from the singer”.

Chagla repeats a similar idea.

“We know that singing can trickle a little further and with a little force,” he says. “So maybe keep the singer out of the room, or with a mask.”

The brass and brass instruments may be less of a problem, despite the amount of spitting often associated with playing them.

“Most of those drops may be stuck in the instrument rather than necessarily being a vehicle for distribution,” says Evans, who plays in a band himself.

“However, these instruments can serve as transmission tools and should therefore never be shared.”

The Ontario Music Educators’ Association recently launched one Framework for the Return to Music Classes, with recommendations such as hand hygiene and instrument cleaning for performance-oriented classrooms.

“This is something schools in Ontario should think carefully about before allowing music lessons or school groups to resume, and follow local / provincial public health guidelines,” said Dr. Jason Brophy, pediatric infectious disease doctor at CHEO.

All experts propose to play outside if possible and to keep the recommended two meters apart.

Again, the rules for meetings also vary across the country, so it’s important to check your local guidelines.


Last week we answered questions about playing cards with friends.

Bring on your questionsby sending us an email at[email protected].

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