Ottawa Approves Travel Exemption for Stanley Cup

The federal government has approved a travel exemption that will allow NHL teams to cross the Canada-US border to compete in the final two rounds of the Stanley Cup play-offs.

Immigration Minister Marco Mendicino issued a “national interest” exemption to the league that would permit cross-border travel under specific conditions amid the Covid-19 pandemic.

NHL players and staff will be able to enter and leave the country via private planes. Players and staff from the United States to Canada will be subject to pre and post-arrival testing in addition to daily Covid-19 tests.

The players will have to live in a modified quarantine bubble that will include the arena and team hotel. They will have to abide by strict rules that severely limit or restrict interactions with the public in both places. There will be no use of shared facilities and no contact with the general public.

These rules are in addition to the existing public health measures that are in place for the remainder of the season.

“In addition to NHL’s COVID Protocol, NHL players and personnel will have to abide by all local public health rules,” Mendicino said in a statement.

“We continue to monitor the COVID-19 situation on both sides of the border. We will not hesitate to take further public health measures where necessary.”

The exemption allows the winner of the NHL’s all-Canadian division and its U.S. opponent to cross the border without quarantine during the Stanley Cup semifinals and finals.

The Montreal Canadiens are currently 2-0 up against the Winnipeg Jets in the Northern Division final. The winner of that series will face one of three US division winners in the league semi-finals.

The exemption would mark the first time regular cross-border NHL travel has occurred during the pandemic. The NHL concluded its season last summer with hubs in Toronto and Edmonton, with all U.S. teams crossing the border just once before departing.

Sports news editor