02/09/2021 12:20 EST

Ontario Will Let NHL Players, Staff Eat In Restaurants Despite Lockdown Rules

The NHL is submitting a list of restaurants, bars and gyms it wants to use.

TORONTO – NHL staff will be allowed to eat in designated Ontario restaurants while much of the province remains in lockdown and under stay-at-home orders, the chief medical officer of health confirmed Monday.

“The rules with the NHL are very much strict with their protocols, with their frequent testing, their isolation of their players … very tight transport within Canada,” Dr. David Williams said at a Queen’s Park press conference. 

“There are some players, of course, this is not their home, and require some place to have some eating and food facilities. The NHL has procured that in a tight level of restriction and control.”

The NHL had previously said that players would only be allowed indoors at their hotel and the rink while travelling for the 2021 season. But the league now plans to submit a list of places it wants to use, including bars, restaurants, and gyms, to Dr. Williams’ office, according to CBC Sports.

Frank Gunn/Canadian Press
Ontario Premier Doug Ford puts on his Toronto Maple Leafs mask during a press conference in Toronto on Feb. 8, 2021.

Canada’s seven NHL teams are only playing against each other this season, in order to avoid travel back and forth across the U.S. border. 

Premier Doug Ford deferred to Dr. Williams when asked why it’s safe for NHL personnel, who are travelling, to eat in restaurants but not an average person who hasn’t left their city for weeks.

‘Go Leafs go’

But he did give a shout out to his “buddy,” the president of the Toronto Maple Leafs, during the press conference. 

“As for the Leafs mask today, a lovely lady from Etobicoke made these in her house,” he said.

“Go Leafs go … Thank you Anna for this mask. My buddy Brendan Shanahan, he’s tight as skin on a grape, he wouldn’t even give me one of these masks.”

Ontario is also loosening some restrictions for the rest of us. 

In three regions — Hastings and Prince Edward Counties; Kingston, Frontenac, Lennox and Addington; and Renfrew County — restaurants and stores will reopen when they move out of lockdown Wednesday. 

In the rest of the province, retail stores will be allowed to reopen when the stay-at-home order lifts. That will be Feb. 22 for Peel, Toronto and York, and Feb. 16 for the rest of the province.