Gov. Scott order prohibits new reservations at skating rinks due to COVID-19 outbreak

MONTPELIER — The Vermont Department of Health said Friday that it’s investigating an outbreak of COVID-19 cases among members of youth and adult recreational hockey and broomball teams in central Vermont.

The outbreak is linked to people who practiced or played at the Central Vermont Memorial Civic Center in Montpelier earlier this month, officials said. So far, the Health Department has identified 18 cases among players and several close contacts and most are in adults.

The department said its contract tracing team has been reaching out to anyone who may have been affected.

The Health Department recommends people with direct links the teams or the Civic Center and their close contacts get tested. A pop-up testing site is being opened on Saturday at the Barre Auditorium from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m.

On Friday, Gov. Phil Scott issued an order prohibiting the state’s ice skating rinks from accepting new reservation for two weeks to “prevent an influx of new users from high risk areas into Vermont’s ice rinks,” according to a news release from the Governor’s Office. 

The order is effective from 5 p.m. Oct. 16 through midnight, Oct. 30. Rinks are are allowed to continue currently scheduled operations, but must abide by all existing health and safety guidance. 

Scott also ordered the Vermont Agency of Commerce and Community Development, along with the Department of Health and the Agency of Natural Resources, to “review current recreation guidance to determine if a more aggressive response is needed to prevent further spread of COVID-19 related to activities in indoor skating, hockey and other recreational facilities.” 

In New Hampshire, Gov. Chris Sununu and health officials announced Thursday that the state is “pausing” all hockey activities at indoor rinks for two weeks following positive COVID-19 tests for 158 people associated with the sport over the last two months.

Dr. Ben Chan, state epidemiologist, said the cases come from 23 different New Hampshire hockey organizations and teams, “and there are additional connections with out-of-state ice hockey organizations.”