Blue Jays Cleared for Return to Canada
The last time the Blue Jays played a game at Rogers Center, their stadium in downtown Toronto, was on September 29, 2019. Since then, because the coronavirus pandemic has caused the Canadian border to be closed, the only major league baseball team in the country. was forced to find makeshift regular-season homes in Dunedin, Fla., his spring training site, and Buffalo, where he replaced the franchise’s top minor league team.
Finally, after almost two years of absence, the Blue Jays are coming home.
On Friday, the team announced they would be back in Toronto starting July 30, with a three-game streak against the Kansas City Royals. The Blue Jays say the Canadian government has granted them a “national interest exemption” which allows Major League Baseball games to be played at Rogers Center “with strong health and safety protocols in place. “.
Marco Mendicino, Canada’s Minister of Immigration, said in a statement published online that the Blue Jays were granted the exemption after “careful scrutiny” by public health officials “at all levels of government.”
“The plan contains important measures to ensure the safety of players, staff and the public,” he added later. “It starts with testing before and after everyone arrives, and additional testing four times a week for unvaccinated people. It also includes significant limitations for unvaccinated people, who will have to undergo a modified quarantine, will not be allowed to go anywhere other than the hotel and stadium, and will have no interaction with the general public. “
Mendicino said there would be compliance officers and if someone linked to a team broke the rules, that person’s exemptions would be revoked and the person could also be subject to fines or prosecution under the law. on the country’s quarantine.
The Blue Jays, who entered Friday 45-42 and ranked third in the AHL East, had been lobbying since last year to return to Canada. They hosted a pre-season camp at the Rogers Center last summer, but their request to host regular-season games there was rejected by government officials over fears that traveling teams could spread the virus.
In the pandemic-shortened 60-game 2020 season, the Blue Jays played their home games in Buffalo at Sahlen Field, the headquarters of their Class AAA affiliate; the stadium’s capacity is three times that of the 49,000-seat Rogers Center. With a young and talented roster, the Blue Jays ended a four-season playoff drought.
This year, the Blue Jays started the season staying in Dunedin, their spring training home, to begin the regular season. On June 1, they moved again to Buffalo, where they modernized the stadium for the needs of the major leagues.
The Blue Jays are scheduled to play 37 home games from July 30 to the end of the regular season.
Last month, Canada granted border travel exemptions for the final two rounds of the NHL playoffs. Although the Canada-U.S. Border remains closed for non-essential travel, MLS teams from Toronto and Montreal returned home last week after federal officials recently eased restrictions on pandemic borders. They allowed some fully vaccinated travelers, including foreign professional athletes with work permits, to enter without a 14-day quarantine as long as they complied with tests before and after arrival.
Quarantine rules, however, still applied to travelers who were not fully vaccinated. And not all MLB players and staff are vaccinated. At the end of June, the MLB and the players’ union said 85% of people in major categories of players and staff had been vaccinated. But even then, teams with high vaccination rates faced virus issues, including the Yankees, who are facing their second severe outbreak as the team hit the 85 percent threshold.
“First and foremost, the Blue Jays would like to thank Canadians for their unprecedented public health efforts and support to the team,” the team said in a statement. “Without you, Blue Jays baseball wouldn’t come home this summer. “
On July 1, Canada Day, Blue Jays manager Charlie Montoyo said he dreams of having the team’s home in the north.
“Buffalo has been great to us, don’t get me wrong,” he told reporters. “But today is one of those days, man, I wish we were in Toronto.” Soon they will be.
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