Oh, Canada, where quarantine means quarantine.
The Toronto Blue Jays were denied an exemption from their homeland to play during the pandemic, and instead, will migrate to either Buffalo, NY or Dunedin, FL to preserve their baseball season. The decision to keep the border closed for non-essential travel was reported by the AP on Saturday.
Though Canada allowed the Jays to return to their usual Rogers Centre home for summer training camp, the country did so under strict measures, forbidding their players from traveling anywhere but the stadium and the hotel attached to the ballpark. The Jays presented a 176-page return-to-play proposal to city, province and national government that continued a modified quarantine at the Rogers Centre and hotel the team was stationed at during training camp.
But traveling routinely to and from the United States, a nation that has struggled so greatly with coronavirus, was a non-starter considering multiple Blue Jays were infected while staying sharp at their Dunedin, FL spring training site. Canada Immigration Minister Marco Mendicino cited the dangers of baseball’s travel dynamic in his statement announcing the decision.
“Unlike preseason training, regular-season games would require repeated-cross border travel of Blue Jays players and staff, as well as opponent teams in and out of Canada. Of particular concern, the Toronto Blue Jays would be required to play in locations where the risk of transmission remains high,” said Mendicino in a statement.
“Based on the best-available public health advice, we have concluded the cross-border travel required for MLB regular-season play would not adequately protect Canadians’ health and safety.”
The team responded to the news in a deferential statement, thanking their government officials, including the ones that ruled against them relaunching the season in Toronto.
“From the onset of discussions with league and government officials, the safety of the broader community — our fans — and the team remained the priority of everyone involved, and with that, the club completely respects the federal government’s decision,” said team president Mark Shapiro in a statement. The longtime exec said “cannot wait until the day comes that we can play in front of our fans on Canadian soil.”
The Jays, who presented a 176-page, return-to-play proposal to all three levels of government that featured a modified quarantine at the Rogers Centre, are not alone in seeking exemptions on government public health rulings.
With opening day less than a week away, the Dodgers and Nationals have reportedly sought exemptions on municipal 14-day quarantine rules for players and staff exposed to the virus. The Nationals, who were contemplating moving their July 23 home opener against the Yankees to their Class-A minor league facility in Fredericksburg, VA or their spring training complex in West Palm Beach, FL, were spared from the city’s law on Friday, but not without a strongly worded statement from the D.C. Department of Health.
“DC Health opines that this proposal poses a potential risk to others in the workplace, both employees and non-employees, who may come into contact with the individual who has been exposed to COVID-19 and continues to work,” wrote Christopher Rodriguez, director of the Homeland Security and Emergency Management Agency, in a letter written to Nats president.
“As such, the Washington Nationals [adopt] this modified policy with the understanding and acceptance of this risk to its workforce and other members of the public.”