Youth Hockey leagues across the state, including the Charlestown Youth Hockey Association (CYHA), returned to the ice on Saturday after a pause put on youth ice hockey by Gov. Charlie Baker in late October due to clusters of COVID-19 cases showing up at some suburban rinks.
CYHA Board members put out a letter welcoming back the hundreds of kids that are participating this year on Nov. 3 and indicated that the return could be as soon as last weekend. The go-ahead finally came for Saturday, and CYHA teams took to the ice all day Saturday and resumed a practice schedule this week at the Emmons Horrigan O’Neil Rink.
CYHA Board members indicated they had been pro-active in implementing strict regulations at the local rink before other rinks did so. That meant a return to play wasn’t going to look much different than before as vigilance had been the key already in Charlestown.
“We are happy that CYHA was proactive and had already adopted several practices designed to make hockey activities as safe as possible and that the operator of our home rink also adopt several safeguards,” read the letter. “When hockey resumes, we expect to see more mandatory practices that help to prevent the spread of COVID-19. On our part, CYHA has been proactively seeking guidance and communicating with the Department of Public Health since before the start of our season. The good news on the compliance front is that the CYHA and Charlestown rink operators had proactively chosen to adopt stricter standards than already required by the Commonwealth and Mass Hockey.”
One example of that, they said, was that face coverings had been mandated from the start of the season in September for all players, coaches and spectators at games and practices. Meanwhile, the concession stand hasn’t opened and the locker rooms were also never opened, which wasn’t the case at all rinks in the area.
“Our practices and efforts have been made to ensure that kids can play hockey without creating situations that could lead to ripple effects that impact families, school activities or other sports,” they said. “We are more committed than ever to vigilant enforcement of safety practices.”