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VACCINES MAY NOT GUARANTEE FAN ATTENDANCE AT NHL GAMES THIS SEASON

When the NHL chose to pause the season in February due to the COVID-19 pandemic, most hockey fans knew that a return to play would be a far cry from normal. Instead, what we have is a new normal, which included a Stanley Cup Playoffs that took place inside of a pair of "bubbles", using Toronto and Edmonton as hub cities for the games.

As unbelievable as it sounds, we are now approaching the 1-year mark of the pandemic, with the virus showing no signs of slowing down as the second wave continues to punish the globe and prevent us from leading the lives that we're used to, including being able to attend hockey games and other types of sporting events, concerts and various types of performances without having to social distance or wear a mask to protect yourself, other patrons and your families and friends. Even dining as we know it has changed.

Well, with the recent announcements from Pharmaceutical companies Pfizer and Moderna concerning effective vaccines that could be ready for public application as soon as next month, many have begun to see the light at the end of the tunnel when it comes to the pandemic possibly ending in the near future. But according to Dr. Susy Hota, associate professor in the department of medicine at the University of Toronto and medical director of infection prevention and control of infection diseases specialist at the University Health Network in Toronto, we're looking at a much longer road to "herd immunity" than many would expect.

"In order for there to be some kind of a herd immunity effect from vaccination ... you still need about 85 per cent coverage in the population for it to really be helpful," said Hota.

In layman's terms, if the vaccine is available to the public within the next month or two, it will still take at least the first half of 2021 before enough of the population has been vaccinated that the potential threat of another wave of cases is avoidable, which essentially means no fans, or at the very least, drastically less fans in attendance at NHL games in 2020-21.



"I think we do have to mentally prepare ourselves, I'd say, for at least a year to try and roll out the vaccine and feel like you've got coverage to a point where it's more protective on a population level.

"I think the goal would be to minimize and keep the sort of two-metre distancing as much as possible between people included in the stadium," she said. "So that does limit the overall capacity quite a bit."

With NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman having previously announced that it's his intent to have the 2020-21 season begin on January 1st and with fans able to attend, it's important to be aware of the fact that there are also factors that are well beyond the control of the League to consider that may prevent his vision from becoming a reality.

You can read more about this story in the article provided by cbc.ca below:

MIKE ARMENTI
NOVEMBER 23, 2020  (17H20)
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