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Lightning will benefit from NHL’s relaxed postseason protocols

The Lightning have 85 percent of their travel party fully vaccinated.
Lightning center Blake Coleman, right, celebrates with center Yanni Gourde and defenseman Victor Hedman after he scored a goal during second-period action at Amalie Arena on Friday.
Lightning center Blake Coleman, right, celebrates with center Yanni Gourde and defenseman Victor Hedman after he scored a goal during second-period action at Amalie Arena on Friday. [ DIRK SHADD | Times ]
Published May 8
Updated May 8

SUNRISE — After winning the Stanley Cup in a bubble environment last season, the Lightning will benefit from relaxed postseason coronavirus protocols, which were announced by the NHL on Saturday.

The Lightning qualify as a “fully vaccinated” team for the postseason because at least 85 percent of the club’s travel party has been fully vaccinated.

The relaxed restrictions for fully vaccinated players will mark the beginning of a return to normalcy. Throughout the regular season, members of the travel party were limited to the arena, practice facility and team hotel on the road.

Daily testing will continue, though fully vaccinated players will no longer have to be tested on off days or take point-of-care tests on game days. Masks still will be required in all game scenarios while in public areas (non-locker room and on-ice areas).

As a team, the Lightning can hold in-person team meetings and social gatherings, with fully vaccinated members allowed to be mask-free and unvaccinated members allowed in the same room while remaining socially distant.

They can eat in outdoor settings free of social distancing guidelines and masks, and also indoors if they are in a separate room away from other diners. Throughout the season, players were prohibited from going to restaurants on the road.

Other minor but significant practices will be permitted, like eating on team flights and buses, using saunas and steam rooms, valet parking at club facilities and playing golf.

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