NHL says players can return home, self-isolate

Ice hockey
Ice hockey

The National Hockey League has told players they may leave their NHL cities but should self-isolate in their locations until at least 27 March in the face of the coronavirus pandemic.

The NHL had earlier asked players to stay in their teams' home towns as the league considered its options after putting the season on hold.

Now players can return to their homes, even if they live overseas, the league said.

The new directions came a day after the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommended cancelling or postponing all "large events and mass gatherings" - including sports events - for  eight weeks in a bid to slow the spread of the virus.

In its latest memo to players, posted on Twitter, the league said it will not be able to provide guidance on potential resumption of team practices for another 45 days, meaning competition won't resume until May.

The league said that "depending on world developments" it might consider allowing teams to reopen practice facilities after 27 March for limited, voluntary player training. 

The NHL regular season was scheduled to end on 4 April with the Stanley Cup playoffs to start four days later leading up to the championship final originally expected to conclude in early June.

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