(Image / Jay Wallace Images)

The Western Hockey League announced they will require all players and staff to be vaccinated against COVID-19.

On Monday, the WHL announced confirmed that it will be mandatory that all roster players, hockey operations staff, and other personnel be fully vaccinated at least 14 days before the start of the 2021-2022 season.

The season begins on October 1st.

“The health and safety of our players and staff continues to be the number one priority for the WHL,” stated 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.”

General managers, head scouts or directors 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 anyone else who interacts directly and on a regular basis with players — also fall under the mandatory vaccination policy.

“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,” Robison added.

The WHL includes the Victoria Royals who will officially open the 2021-22 regular season at home on Saturday, October 2nd.

The team’s full season schedule is to be announced at a later date.

The home opener will be played against none other than bitter rivals the Vancouver Giants, and this will be the first time the team has played an official regular-season game at the arena since the 2019-20 season stopped short due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Though the Royals have not yet announced specifics regarding capacity or possible health regulations at games, with the anticipated lifting of health restrictions across BC, the upcoming WHL season will have a 68-game schedule with full capacity in a safe environment.

The WHL said it has also strongly recommended to member clubs that all eligible members of billet households where players are residing should also be fully vaccinated.

 

With files from Seanna Wainman

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