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New MLB COVID-19 rules: face coverings in dugouts and more

Major League BaseballAfter two COVID-19 outbreaks among MLB teams that wreaked havoc on the schedule, MLB Commissioner Rob Manfred issued new mitigation protocol rules that include mandatory face coverings in dugouts during games, a reduction in the size of traveling parties and more.

The early 2020 MLB schedule has already been upended after multiple COVID-19 positives among members of the Miami Marlins and St. Louis Cardinals, with a single Philadelphia Phillies employee testing positive. Though contact tracing has been initiated to determine how the coronavirus spread, there have been no clear conclusions on specific causes–causing no end of headaches for MLB officials trying to finish the 2020 season without a COVID-19-caused shutdown. Hence the new rules.

USA Today has a list of the new rules. Many of them make common sense, like prohibiting players and members of the traveling party from any sort of gathering while on a road trip, and setting up group meal situations that allow for plenty of social distancing. Others are a little more restrictive: teams must allow for four buses to transport players to and from hotels, with no players sitting side by side; when on a plane, players must wear surgical masks or N95/KN95 respirators–no cloth face covers. But the cloth face covers must be worn at all times at the ballpark, including dugouts and clubhouses, but not on the field. And, finally, when playing home series players are prohibited from visiting venues where crowds gather, such as bars and restaurants.

Is any of this draconian? Not really. Millions of Americans are avoiding bars and restaurants, and millions of Americans are wearing face coverings everywhere outside the home. And while it sounds like a bummer not to gather with teammates for a pregame meal or a postgame drink, serious times require serious solutions, and we all have seen that no one is immune to the COVID-19 virus.

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