NHL closing dressing rooms to media in response to coronavirus

Photo by Minas Panagiotakis/Getty Images
Photo by Minas Panagiotakis/Getty Images /

In response to the continued spread of novel coronavirus, the NHL has decided to close dressing rooms to media, with other leagues expected to follow suit.

The outbreak of novel coronavirus has already impacted the sports and entertainment industry, and on the CDC’s recommendation, major sports leagues are taking notable measures to respond.

According to NHL insider Elliotte Friedman, the NHL will be closing locker room access to the media in an effort to stop the spread of coronavirus. The Athletic‘s Shams Charania reports the NBA is considering the same, and MLB and MLS are expected to follow suit, with media availabilities being conducted in a more formal press conference area.

The virus spreads similarly to influenza, with sneezing and coughing as the primary vectors of infection. Many teams and leagues have already issued guidelines for stopping the spread of coronavirus, urging players, reporters and staff to stay home when they’re sick, avoid touching the eyes, nose and mouth, cover coughs and sneezes with a tissue or one’s elbow, clean and disinfect frequently touched surfaces, and wash hands with soap and water for at least 20 seconds, especially after going to the bathroom, eating, coughing or sneezing.

Now it appears more forward-thinking measures are underway. The NHL isn’t the only league to close off dressing rooms; in Phoenix Friday night, head coach Monty Williams and his Suns players were made available in a larger press conference forum, rather than having media allowed into the locker room. It appears this will become the standard for all major sports leagues until the outbreak has been contained.

According to Charania, the NBA is even going as far as preparing teams to play games without fans in attendance and identify “essential staff” that needs to be present for these games, should it be necessary. This feels like a worst-case scenario, but other leagues may follow a similar line of thinking depending on how the situation develops.

The coronavirus and COVID-19, the disease it causes, first emerged in December 2019 in the city of Wuhan, China. To date, more than 90,000 cases have been confirmed worldwide and the virus has been identified in more than 70 countries, including the United States.

The World Health Organization declared it a “Public Health Emergency of International Concern” on Jan. 30. Countries around the world have implemented travel bans, curfews and quarantines to disrupt the spread.

For more information about COVID-19, visit the CDC’s website or the website for your state’s Department of Health.

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