The governors of the six New England states and New Jersey have extended a prohibition on interstate youth hockey through the end of January.

The governors took the action because of coronavirus outbreaks associated with youth hockey activities.

In a news release late Wednesday, the governors of Maine, New Hampshire, Vermont, Massachusetts, Rhode Island, Connecticut and New Jersey said the prohibition, which had been set to expire Thursday, would be extended through Jan. 31.

The prohibition applies to all public and private schools and youth hockey leagues. It will be reevaluated as public health conditions warrant.

The prohibition does not affect interstate collegiate, professional or U.S. national team hockey.

In Vermont, the order does not affect rules that allow limited youth leagues and school-based sports programs within the state for people 19 and younger.

Sununu protests

An organizer of a group that has held protests outside Gov. Chris Sununu’s home in the weeks since he issued a mask order said no one openly carried a handgun or firearm at any of the gatherings.

“Organizers have made every effort, and have successfully discouraged any and all ‘armed protests’ to date,” Brennan Christian of the group Absolute Defiance said in a statement late Wednesday.

Sununu said earlier that he was canceling his outdoor inauguration ceremony Jan. 7 because of public safety concerns about armed protesters gathering outside his home in Newfields.

“For weeks, armed protesters have increasingly become more aggressive, targeting my family, protesting outside my private residence, and trespassing on my property — an outdoor public ceremony simply brings too much risk,” Sununu said.

Protesters started gathering outside Sununu’s home on Nov. 22 in response to an order, which had taken effect two days earlier, requiring masks to be worn in public spaces, indoors or outside, when social distancing isn’t possible because of the coronavirus pandemic.

On Monday, police issued summonses to nine people and arrested one of them under a new anti-picketing ordinance.

Skylar Bennett, 38, of Concord, said he will contest his arrest on charges of criminal trespass and disorderly conduct.

Small business aid 

Massachusetts is distributing another $67 million to almost 1,400 small businesses to help them survive the coronavirus pandemic, Gov. Charlie Baker announced Thursday.

The grants are part of the a $668 million relief package announced last week.

About half the businesses are minority owned and 48% are owned by women, officials said. They include restaurants and bars, personal services and retailers.

The first round of grants announced last week totaled nearly $49 million in support of 1,158 Massachusetts small businesses.

The grants of up to $75,000, but not more than three months’ operating expenses, can be used for payroll and employee benefit costs, mortgage interest, rent, utilities and interest on other debt obligations.


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