World Juniors, Flames, Oilers games limited to 50 per cent capacity

A view of Rogers Place prior to the opening face-off of a game between the Winnipeg Jets and Edmonton Oilers on March 11, 2020. (Darcy Finley/NHLI via Getty Images)

The World Junior Hockey Championship, Calgary Flames and Edmonton Oilers home games will be limited to 50 per cent capacity after the Alberta government unveiled new rules on Tuesday to combat the current surge of COVID-19 cases.

The 2022 world junior event starts on Boxing Day in Edmonton and Red Deer, Alta.

In addition to the capacity restriction, eating and drinking will not be permitted in the arenas.

“Hockey Canada fully support the direction taken by the Province of Alberta, and we will continue to do our part to maintain the health and safety of all World Juniors participants and the community at large,” Hockey Canada chief executive officer Tom Renney and president and chief operating officer Scott Smith said in a joint statement.

Alberta was awarded the 2022 world juniors last year with hopes of big crowds after the ’21 edition was forced to be held without any fans in Edmonton due to COVID-19.

Alberta’s decision is very similar to rules introduced by other provinces in the past week — limiting indoor capacity to 50 per cent in venues that hold 1,000 people or more.

All other Canadian provinces with NHL teams are now at 50 per cent — except Quebec, which prohibited spectators at sporting venues earlier this week.

The next scheduled NHL game in Alberta is next Monday with the Flames slated to host the Oilers.

The Flames have not played since Dec. 11 and are currently in the midst of the NHL’s largest COVID-19 outbreak.

The NHL announced Monday it will pause its season from Wednesday through Christmas Day because of COVID-19 concerns. Players are scheduled to return to team facilities for testing on Dec. 26.

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