The main purpose of this procedure that was set up by the organizers in co-operation with authorities of the province of Alberta is to make sure to provide a safe environment to host the tournament during the pandemic and make sure Covid-19 doesn’t enter the bubble.
Teams have already followed a one-week bubble on home ice during their camp where they have been tested at least three times. A few players and staff members from some teams were not able to join the teams due to positive Covid-19 tests. On Sunday teams were flown from abroad to Edmonton by exclusive charter planes including three planes from Europe. Nobody was able to board the planes without approval by the IIHF following the testing sessions or if experiencing symptoms at the airport.
On Sunday all teams and officials as well as technical personnel in the bubble arrived in Edmonton and will follow a four-day period of self-isolation in single rooms before the teams can come together physically. During that time there will be e-learning sessions for players, who cannot leave the rooms and will get meals in their room.
After five negative Covid-19 tests on-site and four days in single-room isolation, players can join together as a team and ice practices will be possible but teams will stay isolated for three more days without interaction with other participants. Afterwards the full bubble life starts and exhibition games will be possible from 20-23 December. The tournament starts on 25 December.
Bubble life means that players, coaches, officials and other staff in the bubble cannot leave the secure zone that includes the hotel, the arena and the practice rink that are in proximity to each other, in many cases without the need to leave the building. Participants are limited in the hotel to their team’s floor as well as the meeting rooms and meal rooms assigned to the team. If somebody leaves the secure zone, they will not be able to return and will have to travel home.
Everybody in the bubble will have to wear masks at all time including during light warm-up exercises and stretching. Exceptions are games and practices on the ice, physical activities and while eating – and outside of the ice keep social distancing of two metres. Spitting, open nose blows and handshakes are forbidden. There will also be no handshakes between captains and referees and exchange of pennants before the game and no handshakes after the game. The locker rooms, benches and fitness equipment are regularly disinfected.
Except for a small number of staff of the rightholding broadcasters and producers that are part of the bubble and follow the same rules, players will not have contact to the media at the venue. Interviews will be conducted in video calls. Also meetings between different groups such as the directorate meetings with representatives from all teams will be held remotely and not in person.
It will be a special time for everybody involved and a hard time en route to the tournament but once we reach Christmas Day, players and hockey fans can enjoy what they like most about this period: the World Juniors.