With COVID-19 transmissions affecting many leagues once again, the NHL has decided to err on the side of caution. Just a few hours after mulling a temporary shutdown, league officials on Monday agreed to suspend all operations from December 22 to 25.

According to NHL insider Frank Seravalli, aside from the games, all teams are prohibited to conduct practices and other related activities. COVID-19 testing will also be halted. Players can only return to their respective team facilities on Sunday.

The NHL has already suspended 27 games this season because of the COVID-19 situation.

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The latest development seemed inevitable after the NHL and the NHL Players Association earlier agreed to cancel all cross-border games until Thursday.

According to ESPN, the NHL enforced this week stricter COVID-19 protocols, perhaps due to the Omicron variant, which has quickly spread in many countries. The league will reportedly look into social distancing in team facilities and introduce restrictions on going out.

The NHL has also recommended booster shots for players.

If players are going to look at the positive side of things (no pun intended), the extended break will give them more time to spend with their families, earning a respite from what has been a very challenging season due to the still-pervasive virus.