The English Ice Hockey Association have confirmed that Phase 1 of its ‘Return to Play’ plan is in effect, with players able to train and practice in small groups away from the ice rink.
Phase 2 would allow some practice on ice but is wholly dependent on the government giving rinks permission to open alongside other indoor leisure facilities which have been closed since March due to the coronavirus.
Travis Ward, who joined the EIHA board in January, said the Association’s executive had worked with partners to be as prepared as possible for a restart of hockey in England and Wales.
“Seeing the sport completely shut down a few months after I joined the board is not how I envisaged my first season ending,” said Ward.
“However the Board has taken government advice and worked closely with Sport England and other sporting organisations to prepare our plan to bring the sport back.
“We are now in Phase 1 which allows groups of up to five individuals to practice off-ice to develop fitness, strength and conditioning and individual skills while maintaining a safe social distance.
“It is expected that the government will update their guidance for indoor venues in the next couple of weeks and once we have a date for rinks to re-open, we can begin to work with our venues and clubs to plan for moving into Phase 2.
“We appreciate there are still a lot of variables in the plan but it will be updated and republished with every change in guidance, and we aim to be as accurate as possible in projecting when each phase will begin.
“Everyone from the board, the clubs, the players, coaches, officials and fans wants to get back to our rinks and support our teams. We want that too but only when it is safe to do so. We’d like to thank everyone for their patience and we look forward to seeing them in due course.
“For now, we will continue to follow the guidance – washing hands, staying safe and alert, and maintaining our distance.
“We hope everyone keeps safe and well, and we can’t wait to get back to ice hockey.”