Sarah Palin is ‘just friends’ with Ron Duguay of New York Rangers, amid romance rumors

 Sarah Palin is ‘just friends’ with Ron Duguay of New York Rangers, amid romance rumors

photo credit: (Getty Images )

Sarah Palin dined out with former hockey player Ron Duguay this week, but a source insists they are not an item.

The former Alaska governor and vice-presidential candidate, 57, was spotted with the retired New York Rangers player at an Upper East Side restaurant in Manhattan this week, sparking speculation about a new romance.

The couple was spotted at Elio’s eatery on Wednesday evening, and Page Six reported on Friday that they’ve been dating since late last year.

However, a Palin source tells PEOPLE they’re “just friends” who “met through hockey.” (Duguay could not be reached for comment.)

Palin has been single since 2020, following the divorce of her husband of 31 years, Todd Palin, in August 2019. Duguay, 64, was married to Kim Alexis, a supermodel, from 1993 to 2013.

Palin was in New York for a trial in connection with a libel suit she filed against The New York Times. A federal judge postponed the start of that trial after learning Palin was infected with COVID-19 again. (Jury selection will now begin on February 3.)

Palin’s decision to dine out in the days following her positive diagnosis was criticized by Mayor Eric Adam’s office, who said she “has shown a complete disregard” for health and safety guidelines.

“By repeatedly flouting CDC guidelines, Ms. Palin has shown a complete disregard for the health and safety of small business workers and her fellow patrons,” Adams’ spokesman Jonah Allon said in a statement.

“The city offers multiple resources to support isolation for those who test positive for COVID-19, and we encourage Ms. Palin to join the 98 percent of New Yorkers who report they have followed guidance on isolation and have helped New York City stop the spread.”

Palin has apparently been diagnosed with COVID for the second time, following an earlier infection last year. But that hasn’t stopped her from eating at restaurants in New York City both before and after the test.

Palin also ate indoors at Elio’s in Manhattan last Saturday, according to the Times. The restaurant claimed that it made a mistake by allowing Palin to eat there because it requires guests to show proof of vaccination to eat indoors, and Palin is not vaccinated.

She returned to Elio’s on Wednesday after her positive test results were revealed, according to the Upper East Side restaurant’s manager.

“In accordance with the vaccine mandate and to protect our staff, we seated her outdoors,” Luca Guaitolini told the website Gothamist. “We are a restaurant open to the public, and we treat civilians the same.”

“We encourage any New Yorker who came into contact with Sarah Palin to get tested, just as we encourage all New Yorkers to get tested regularly, especially those who believe they may have been exposed to COVID-19,” the mayor’s spokesman previously told PEOPLE.

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