The English Ice Hockey Association (EIHA) was pleased to hear Thursday’s government announcement which paves the way for ice rinks in England to reopen later this month.
Sport England’s website provides a useful summary of the latest information. The Government has also set out specific guidance for all team sports to follow. (GOV.uk).
This guidance from government sets out that, “Each individual sport will submit to the government (Department for Digital, Culture, Media & Sport) an action plan and any related guidance, demonstrating its mitigations, how it plans to operate, and any adaptations required.” The guidance is also clear that until the action plan is approved for the specific sport, the sport cannot resume in any form as an indoor team sport. “Guidance for team sports that has been cleared by PHE/HSE will be linked on GOV.UK. If guidance is not linked on GOV.UK, then the sport has not been cleared to restart”.
As a national governing body (NGB), we have been working continuously with sport sector bodies and ice rinks throughout the pandemic to be as prepared as possible.
The government announcement means that ice rinks in England can open from July 25, however, the government guidance is specific and confirms that as the NGB we can only sanction ice hockey activity to take place when our sport-specific guidance has been signed off by Public Health England and the Health & Safety Executive. We hope that our guidance will be signed off to coincide with the date when ice rinks can re-open so we can move to the next phase of our return to play plan.
However, it is crucial that we wait for our guidance to be approved. If we have a situation where ice rinks are open but our guidance has not been signed off by government, then we will not be able to resume any activity. We appreciate this will be frustrating for rink owners, clubs and participants, but the safety of everyone is paramount and we have to follow what is required of us by government.
Our guidance has been submitted as requested by government, and as soon as we receive approval, we will look to advance through to the next phase of our published return to play plan.
Until then, we remain in Phase 1 of our plan.