Major League Baseball learned a crucial lesson about suspending games from the Miami Marlins’ COVID-19 outbreak. As the St. Louis Cardinals recover from baseball’s second outbreak, MLB is reacting from another valuable lesson.
With the Cardinals set to return to the diamond on Friday and the Marlins already back, MLB made sweeping changes to its COVID-19 protocols that will be felt for the remainder of the season.
MLB updates COVID-19 protocols following outbreaks
Before the two outbreaks that rocked MLB and left many questioning if the season should be suspended, players got away with walking around without masks and behavior that increased their risk to exposure. Moving forward, it seems MLB is ready to do whatever it takes to prevent that.
According to ESPN’s Jesse Rogers, MLB sent a memo to each of its clubs on Wednesday detailing the enhanced COVID-19 protocols that every organization must follow. While the league will offer some grace at first, it’s clear violating the safety guidelines could come with real consequences.
Under the new guidelines, any player or staff member who repeatedly violates the COVID-19 protocols will be subject to a suspension from the regular season and postseason. So, if MLB sees a player refusing to wear a mask in October, they could prevent them from playing.
Moving forward, all MLB personnel will be required to wear face coverings whenever they are outside, except when playing on the field or in their individual hotel rooms. When teams travel, it will be mandatory for all personnel to wear surgical masks.
The policy that might hit players the hardest is MLB’s new rules regarding activity when away from the diamond. When clubs are on the road, players and coaches must receive approval from the team’s compliance officer before leaving the hotel for public areas.
Both the MLB and MLB Players Association agreed to the changes, so these new protocols are officially in place moving forward.
While being so restricted might be difficult for players, especially on the road, it decreases the risk of a third COVID-19 outbreak and increases the odds of the season being completed.