Skip to main content
Canada’s most-awarded newsroom for a reason
Enjoy unlimited digital access
$1.99
per week
for 24 weeks
Canada’s most-awarded newsroom for a reason
$1.99
per week
for 24 weeks
// //

Dr. Howard Njoo says the Public Health Agency of Canada is reviewing the CFL’s return-to-play protocols.

The Canadian Press

Dr. Howard Njoo says the Public Health Agency of Canada continues to review the CFL’s return-to-play protocols, but can’t provide a timeline for when final approval might come.

The CFL’s board of governors voted Monday in favour of starting the 2021 season Aug. 5 and opening training camps July 10. The league didn’t play games in 2020 because of the COVID-19 pandemic.

“Obviously time is of the essence,” Njoo, the agency’s deputy chief public-health officer, said during a conference call. “They have their proposed timeline in terms of training camps and the start of the season.

Story continues below advertisement

“Certainly there are program staff within the agency [who] are looking very carefully from a public-health perspective what the protocols are like. They are looking good, [but] I can’t give you a definitive answer in terms of when they would be completing the review. Obviously, there are other departments as well that are probably involved in making a final decision. I would say at the present time things are trending in the right direction in terms of our review.”

Njoo wouldn’t say what the ramifications would be if approval of the CFL protocols wasn’t granted before July 10.

An agency official told The Canadian Press last week the federal government had received the CFL’s request for a national interest exemption for modified quarantine for the upcoming season. The official added the agency was reviewing it with provincial health authorities.

The CFL would like Ottawa to offer the same exemptions it provided the NHL. The federal government waived its mandatory 14-day quarantine period for players acquired by Canadian NHL teams from American clubs “under national interest grounds” leading up to the league’s April 12 trade deadline.

If granted, CFL players would observe a seven-day quarantine once they arrive in Canada and be subject to daily COVID-19 testing. They’d be eligible to suit up for their teams while continuing to undergo daily testing the next week.

“I think in terms of the NIE, certainly with respect to players crossing the border and so on, I think the CFL has presented their protocols to us,” Njoo said. “I would say the CFL has also given us good protocols in terms of testing.

“The other point I think that’s very important as well that we’ll be following is the fact that CFL games are basically played in outdoor stadiums so that’s already a good starting point with respect to the summer. Everyone is at least being outdoors. With respect to things such as spectators and capacity and so on, those are things that are going to be examined closely, not just by ourselves but obviously by the provincial authorities as well.”

Story continues below advertisement

The CFL has also stated a return to play would have to also be with “significant” fans in the stands, although Ontario, for example, has not provided clearance for spectators to watch Ottawa Redblacks, Toronto Argonauts or Hamilton Tiger-Cats games. The three Ontario teams and the Montreal Alouettes are scheduled to open the season on the road to provide additional time for the allowance of fans at their home venues by the time they return to their respective provinces.

Last August, the CFL shelved its plans for an abbreviated 2020 campaign after failing to secure a $30-million, interest-free loan from Ottawa. At the time, its return-to-play protocols were being considered by the Public Health Agency of Canada.

And that’s exactly where the CFL remains today, with time of the essence. On Thursday, the federal government made 60,000 rapid tests available to the league, which will be used as part of its health-and-safety protocols this year.

The rapid tests will be included in some provinces in the testing regimen used by players, coaches and staff. They’ll also be used across Canada to test other personnel such as off-field officials and game-day staff.

“I kind of remember getting this question last year,” Njoo said. “I think we’re in sort of a different situation this year compared to last year and much, I think, more encouraging.

“As we’ve said repeatedly, the more Canadians that are vaccinated … then I think we can see more and more a return to, I wouldn’t say a completely normal life as before, but certainly a much better summer and a CFL season that we didn’t have at all last year.”

Your Globe

Build your personal news feed

  1. Follow topics and authors relevant to your reading interests.
  2. Check your Following feed daily, and never miss an article. Access your Following feed from your account menu at the top right corner of every page.

Follow topics related to this article:

View more suggestions in Following Read more about following topics and authors
Report an error
Due to technical reasons, we have temporarily removed commenting from our articles. We hope to have this fixed soon. Thank you for your patience. If you are looking to give feedback on our new site, please send it along to feedback@globeandmail.com. If you want to write a letter to the editor, please forward to letters@globeandmail.com.

Welcome to The Globe and Mail’s comment community. This is a space where subscribers can engage with each other and Globe staff. Non-subscribers can read and sort comments but will not be able to engage with them in any way. Click here to subscribe.

If you would like to write a letter to the editor, please forward it to letters@globeandmail.com. Readers can also interact with The Globe on Facebook and Twitter .

Welcome to The Globe and Mail’s comment community. This is a space where subscribers can engage with each other and Globe staff. Non-subscribers can read and sort comments but will not be able to engage with them in any way. Click here to subscribe.

If you would like to write a letter to the editor, please forward it to letters@globeandmail.com. Readers can also interact with The Globe on Facebook and Twitter .

Welcome to The Globe and Mail’s comment community. This is a space where subscribers can engage with each other and Globe staff.

We aim to create a safe and valuable space for discussion and debate. That means:

  • Treat others as you wish to be treated
  • Criticize ideas, not people
  • Stay on topic
  • Avoid the use of toxic and offensive language
  • Flag bad behaviour

If you do not see your comment posted immediately, it is being reviewed by the moderation team and may appear shortly, generally within an hour.

We aim to have all comments reviewed in a timely manner.

Comments that violate our community guidelines will not be posted.

UPDATED: Read our community guidelines here

Discussion loading ...

To view this site properly, enable cookies in your browser. Read our privacy policy to learn more.
How to enable cookies