image.jpg

Manitoba's top doctor helped clarify some concerns and potential disappointment about the NHL being given the go-ahead to restart but recreational sports not being allowed to play.

Dr. Brent Roussin, the chief provincial public health officer, said on Monday the NHL is under a strict set of guidelines that wouldn't be possible for other sports leagues in the province.

"These players are going to the rink and home or to the hotel and that's it," said Roussin, "So really no exposures to Manitobans outside of that."

He added that the players will also be tested daily for COVID-19 to make sure they aren't contracting it.

Roussin said these same procedures wouldn't be able to happen with kids and parents.

"We don't have those safeguards in other levels of play. We won't have parents and children only going to the rink and home. They'll be out to work or to school amongst other things and certainly wouldn't have the ability to privately contract testing every single day."

He said he understands the disappointment and knows it is important for all Manitobans to partake in physical activity and he said officials are constantly reviewing how to make that work.

"We will be able to return to that, just not at this point," Roussin said.

"We want to get people back to this recreation as soon as we can. So we will do that, but just right now we still need to see the effects of these holiday gatherings we need to do things gradually."

The Winnipeg Jets were given the green light on Friday by the provincial government to officially let the team hit the ice this upcoming season for games.

The province said the team will be required to follow strict protocols to make sure everyone in the league is safe as well as the general public.

The Jets start their season on Thursday when they host the Calgary Flames.

On Monday, health officials announced 133 new cases and three deaths.

Roussin said there have been 538 confirmed cases of COVID-19 linked to gatherings over the holidays and there are 2,879 close contacts because of it.

With files from CTV's Charles Lefebvre.