The US has reportedly designated professional athletes as essential workers during the coronavirus crisis.
NHL Deputy Commissioner Bill Daly said on Tuesday that the order was signed by acting Secretary of Homeland Security Chad Wolf, according to Mike Zeisberger of NHL.com.
The move apparently comes as the NHL and other leagues gear up for a potential return to action. On Tuesday, the NHL put forth a plan for a return that would begin with a 24-team playoff, officially ending the regular season.
"We have been dealing with the governments in both the United States and Canada on these travel restrictions and quarantine requirements," Daly said on a Tuesday conference call, according to Newsweek. "The acting director of Homeland Security in the last three days, I believe, signed an order that made professional athletes essential personnel and allows them to travel into the United States."
The DHS recently signed an exemption "allowing entry of certain foreign professional athletes into the US."
In a statement, Wolf said the exemption was a necessary step in restarting the US economy.
"Professional sporting events provide much needed economic benefits, but equally important, they provide community pride and national unity. In today's environment, Americans need their sports. It's time to reopen the economy and it's time we get our professional athletes back to work."
The specific timeline for a potential return of NHL action was unclear. Commissioner Gary Bettman said the league would coordinate with public officials, and camps would start July 1 at the earliest.