The Toronto Blue Jays are still on track for a 2021 Rogers Centre return as Canada officials review the team’s COVID-19 management plan, but the exact timing is still up in the air.
With new border rules exacted by the Canadian government on July 5, 14-day quarantines are not required by the fully vaccinated for essential travel, contingent on passing a COVID-19 test. Those rules may be loosened more as soon as tomorrow, with more eligible citizens added to the rolls.
The Toronto Blue Jays have played home games this season first at Dunedin’s TD Ballpark and Buffalo’s Sahlen Field with the U.S.-Canadian border closed, but neither was an ideal situation.
It sounds like MLB’s inclusion of nonvaccinated players may also be an issue, particularly after several New York Yankees players were placed in MLB’s COVID protocol after testing positive for the virus. All-Star Aaron Judge was one of the six players testing positive, leading other teams to express concern about their All-Stars and MLB to cancel the first game of the Yankees-Red Sox series this week.
What MLB has proposed: all players, including Blue Jays, be allowed north of the border, but sequestered to their hotels and the ballpark. The team has been working with Dr. Howard Njoo, Canada’s deputy chief public health officer, to finalize a protocol for Canadian play, who at a press conference today said things were looking good for the team’s return to Rogers Centre. From AP:
“We’re looking at, I would say, last details,” Njoo said. “But at this point I would say there aren’t any showstoppers or anything that we really can’t continue to discuss and move forward on.
“So I can’t give you a date in terms of when a possible decision would be made for the NIE or national interest exemption, but I would say that in terms of the discussions from a public health perspective, they’ve been going very well.”
If approved, the Blue Jays could return to Rogers Centre on July 30, the beginning of a 12-game homestand, but if that date isn’t feasible the next window is August 20.
Presumably a July 30 return for Toronto would lead to a return of the Buffalo Bisons (Triple-A East) to Sahlen Field. Bisons officials say it would take two weeks or so to transition back to Buffalo from the team’s temporary home in Trenton. The Blue Jays are set to play in Buffalo as late as July 21, and given the Bisons schedule, it would be August 10 for a return to Sahlen Field–and, conveniently, the Bisons schedule doesn’t yet specify a location for games on that date.
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