As the COVID-19 virus, aka the Coronavirus, spreads, sports leagues are having to make serious preparations for potential disruption. Given the nature of the virus as highly contagious, large gatherings of people in close contact is the worst possible situation for the spread of the virus.
Five major sports leagues have already issued a policy that will restrict locker room access to players and team personnel, with media availability taking place at press conference settings and outside the locker room, with a six-foot gap recommended between players and press. That doesn’t address the safety issue for fans, but leagues also know that a player contracting the virus would lead to swift and dramatic issues for playing the season.
As the leagues seem to wait on health officials to recommend more drastic measures, such as playing games behind closed doors as has been happening in Italy prior to the lockdown of the entire country this week and the cancellation of all sporting events, some places aren’t willing to wait as long. Santa Clara County in California, where San Jose is located, has decided to ban all events with more than 1,000 people for three weeks, which would seem to impact the NHL’s Sharks. The goal is to limit the spread within the community as Santa Clara has already had one confirmed death from COVID-19.
The Sharks have three home games scheduled in that span, facing the Canadiens, Bruins, and Coyotes in the coming weeks at home. The team issued a statement late Monday night noting they will be reviewing their options going forward ahead of their next home game on March 17, but will abide by the declaration and appreciate the patience of their fans and partners.