(Reuters) - The National Hockey League (NHL) on Thursday took another step towards resuming the season during the COVID-19 pandemic by announcing teams will be allowed to reopen training facilities from next week.
Starting on Monday, players from all 31 teams can participate in individualized training activities, the NHL said in outlining Phase 2 of its ‘Return to Play Plan’.
The league was halted in mid-March due to the novel coronavirus outbreak.
“All necessary preparations for Phase 2, including those that require player participation (education, diagnostic testing, scheduling for medicals, etc.), can begin immediately,” the NHL said in a statement.
“The NHL and the NHLPA continue to negotiate over an agreement on the resumption of play.”
The return to training will be on a voluntary basis and those who choose to attend will be scheduled to do so in small groups that do not exceed six players at a time.
The final two phases of the return-to-play protocol would see full team training camps followed by a resumption of games.
Last week the NHL unveiled a return-to-play format that effectively ended the regular season and would go straight to expanded 24-team playoffs held in two hub cities.
Reporting by Frank Pingue in Toronto; Editing by Peter Rutherford