The NHL and San Jose Sharks will adhere to a ban on mass gatherings enacted by Santa Clara County in California through the end of March in response to the spread of the coronavirus and are "working together to determine an appropriate course of action for home games through the end of the month," the League announced Tuesday.
The ban on public and private gatherings of 1,000 people or more, which was announced by the County of Santa Clara Public Health Department on Monday, impacts Sharks games at SAP Center against the Montreal Canadiens (March 19), Boston Bruins (March 21), and Arizona Coyotes (March 29).
"SAP Center at San Jose is aware of the County of Santa Clara's Public Health Department order to prohibit public and private mass gatherings through the end of March. We will adhere to the mandated guidelines," the Sharks said in a statement Monday. "No events are scheduled at SAP Center until [Tuesday], March 17. We will be reviewing each scheduled event due to take place for the rest of the month and provide an update in the coming days. We appreciate the understanding and patience of our fans, guests and partners during this unprecedented time."
The ban, which goes into effect Thursday, was announced the same day the county reported five new cases of the coronavirus, bringing its total number of cases in the county to 43, according to The Mercury News.
"We're all dealing with this together," Sharks forward Evander Kane said Tuesday. "It's affecting some people, older people more than younger people who are healthy. It's something you're aware of. You think of your parents and your children.
"For us, we just want to keep our workplace as clean as possible and be cognizant of each other, keep moving forward and hope this gets cured."
Forward Joe Thornton said the Sharks, like everyone else, are trying to cope with the situation.
"What's going on right now is weird for everybody. I think we're all confused like everyone," Thornton said. "To see it kind of hit home puts it all in perspective. We have to all take care of each other. It's been tough these last couple of weeks."
On Monday, the NHL, NBA, MLB and MLS announced all team locker rooms would be open only to players and essential team employees, and media access would be held in designated areas outside the locker rooms.
NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman was asked Saturday in Florida about the possibility of games being played in empty arenas.
"You know what, I don't want to create any speculation or hysteria. There are obviously a variety of consequences that we may have to focus on, and we'll do that at the appropriate time," Commissioner Bettman said. "But let's not get ahead of ourselves here, OK? We're staying on top of it and we're in constant communication with our clubs and the [NHL] Players' Association, and we're going to deal with this in as thorough, professional, on-top-of-it manner as possible."
NHL.com independent correspondents Ross McKeon and Alain Poupart contributed to this report