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NHL urges players to limit contact with fans due to coronavirus

Patrick McDermott / National Hockey League / Getty

The NHL has sent a memo to teams instructing players to limit contact with fans amid concerns over the coronavirus, deputy commissioner Bill Daly confirmed to The Canadian Press on Friday.

The NBA took similar precautions Monday, recommending players use fist-bumps rather than high-fives when interacting with fans, and avoid taking items for autographs.

Commissioner Gary Bettman said Wednesday he's ordered a stop to all business-related travel outside of North America for league employees. If employees travel to affected locations of their own accord, the league is mandating a two-week quarantine upon return before those individuals can resume work.

A number of sporting events around the globe have been canceled or postponed as countries work to contain the virus. Switzerland's top hockey league has pushed back its playoffs until mid-March, while some Italian soccer games have taken place with no fans in attendance.

The NHL has not yet explored dramatic measures to contain the outbreak. Santa Clara County in northern California has recommended the cancellation of large events, including San Jose Sharks games. Nevertheless, the Sharks announced Friday all SAP Center events will proceed as scheduled this weekend. The team did, however, urge fans to follow the county health department's suggestion that people at "higher risk" avoid mass gatherings.

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