The manager of the Northford Ice Pavilion and the East Shore District Health Department agreed Saturday to close the rink for a week due to the spread of COVID-19 in the hockey community, according to Michael Pascucilla, East Shore District Health Department director.
More than 20 COVID-19 infections identified in the last couple of weeks were among individuals who visited the Northford facility, Pascucilla said.
It’s difficult to pinpoint where the Northford individuals may have contracted the virus due to the travel associated with ice hockey, Pascucilla said.
“This was a voluntary pause of events in collaboration with the East Shore health district,” Bill Maniscalco, who manages the Northford Ice Pavilion, said in an email Monday. “We will try and reopen as soon as we can. The safety of our staff and customers is the priority.”
Maniscalco indicated he did not know of cases connected to the rink but said “some coaches or players may have tested positive that visited the facility,” adding that the facility is sanitized regularly.
Not all of the infected individuals live within Pascucilla’s district, according to the health director, whose department oversees North Branford, Branford and East Haven.
Cases associated with the rink include 18 members of the Yale men’s hockey team, who played at the facility, Pascucilla said.
Other cases are associated with the rink but not connected to Yale’s team, he said, adding that the department still is in the midst of the contact tracing process.
Fourteen East Shore health district residents also have been asked to quarantine due to possible exposure to the coronavirus, Pascucilla said. Maniscalco said at the time that the rink was following all Centers for Disease Control and Prevention protocols.
Earlier this year, health officials identified multiple COVID-19 cases tied to a summer ice hockey tournament that took place, in part, at the Northford Ice Pavilion.
Gov. Ned Lamont indicated Tuesday that more guidance would be forthcoming for the state’s winter sports, including ice hockey.
On Sunday, Massachusetts officials announced ice rinks will be closed starting Monday through Nov. 7, after dozens of “clusters” of COVID-19 infections emerged from hockey games, practices and tournaments.
Paul Mounds, Lamont’s chief of staff, said the state officials are in discussion with other leaders throughout New England about hockey, prompted by Mass. Gov. Charlie Baker’s office.
Mounds said those talks are focusing “particularly on travel from one state to another for hockey-related tournaments.”
“In addition to that, we’re also having our usual conversations with the CIAC, who should be looking to put out their guidance in the coming weeks” Mounds said, refferring to the Connecticut Interscholastic Athletic Conference.
In the meantime, the state will be focused on limiting the spread of the virus through travel from hockey tournaments as Massachusetts — as well as New Hampshire — contend with closed rinks, Mounds said.
Officials will reassess Saturday’s decision to close Northford Ice Pavilion after a week, according to Pascucilla, who said COVID-19 infections have been connected to sporting events statewide.
Pascucilla encouraged people to take COVID-19 precautions — wear face coverings, practice social distancing and, if you’re sick, stay home, he said in a release.