The Calgary, Alberta-based Western Hockey League (WHL) announced Monday, Aug. 16 it has adopted a mandatory COVID-19 vaccination policy.
The Kent-based Seattle Thunderbirds are members of the league and play their home games at the accesso ShoWare Center.
Effective immediately, all WHL roster players, hockey operations staff and other team and WHL office personnel along with officials must be fully vaccinated with a Health Canada approved COVID-19 vaccine at least 14 days prior to the start of the 2021-22 regular season, according the league statement. The regular season opens Friday, Oct. 1.
In addition to players, the mandatory vaccination policy will apply to general managers, coaches, head scouts or director of player personnel, trainers, equipment managers, on-ice and off-ice consultants, on-ice officials and ice level off-ice officials (penalty box attendants; timekeepers and scorekeepers) and any other individuals who interact directly and on a regular basis with players.
“The health and safety of our players and staff continues to be the number one priority for the WHL,” said WHL Commissioner Ron Robison. “The policy is designed to further protect our players and staff in the WHL from the potential risk of exposure to COVID-19.
“With travel restrictions currently in place with the Canada / U.S. border as well as the province of Manitoba, it is important all players and staff are fully vaccinated in order to be eligible to play a full season in the WHL.”
The WHL has also strongly recommended to each of its member clubs that players reside in billet households in which all eligible individuals are fully vaccinated.
The WHL consists of 22 member clubs with 17 located in Western Canada and five in the Pacific Northwest.