Planning for the World’s Longest Hockey Game continues to take place while organizers wait to see whether they will receive an exemption from Alberta Health for the event.
The charity fundraiser is currently scheduled to take place Feb. 4 to 15 in Sherwood Park. Currently, COVID-19 restrictions in the province prohibit team sports.
Organizer Brent Saik said he has been in discussions with the province about how the event could be held safely.
Alberta Health spokesperson Tom McMillan said in a statement to Global News the department has received the proposal.
“It has not yet been approved. It is being reviewed. Our priority is always public health,” McMillan said.
Saik said, if the event were allowed to go ahead, the majority of players would be from the Edmonton-area and would have to complete a quarantine process before the start of the hockey game. He said there would also be consistent COVID-19 testing.
Volunteers, such as cooks and Zamboni drivers, would also have to be quarantined, while scorekeepers would work in a building outside of the arena and referees would oversee the event from outside the restricted area, Saik said.
Spectators, who would typically watch the event from the stands, would only be allowed in vehicles in a drive-through, according to Saik.
On Thursday, Alberta Health confirmed 967 new cases of COVID-19, and the province is allowing personal and wellness services to reopen Monday by appointment only. Up to 10 people will be allowed at outdoor gatherings and funeral services can have a limit of 20 people. All other public health measures remain in effect.
Saik acknowledged that some people may not be happy if an exemption is granted but he said the event is important.
“We can live within a pandemic. [The event] has to be done responsibly and properly. I want people to know this is going to be the new gold standard of what it takes to fundraiser. It’s not like it used to be, but it can still be done properly and safely,” he said.
Saik said the goal of the event is to raise $1.5 million for cancer research.
He hopes to hear a decision by Jan. 21 in order to finalize preparations for the fundraiser.
Information on the event can be found at the charity’s website.
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