Nationals may not open MLB season in D.C. due to COVID-19 policies

Washington Nationals logo during a game against the New York Mets
Aug 27, 2017; Washington, DC, USA; A view of the Washington Nationals logo on a bat weight in the on deck circle during the game against the New York Mets at Nationals Park. Mandatory Credit: Aaron Doster-USA TODAY Sports

The defending World Series champion Washington Nationals are slated to open the 2020 MLB season a week from Thursday in D.C. against the New York Yankees.

It’s the first part of a doubleheader that will ultimately conclude with the Los Angeles Dodgers hosting the San Francisco Giants.

That’s great on paper, but it might not happen.

Due to D.C. COVID-19 restrictions, Nationals might not open the season at home

“The Washington Nationals are unsure if they will begin this season playing at Nationals Park due to municipal coronavirus protocols, according to multiple people with knowledge of the situation, and the team is actively exploring alternative sites — with Opening Day now only a week away,” Jesse Dougherty and Dave Sheinin of the Washington Post reported.

The two insiders indicated that the Nationals are looking into alternative venues in Virginia and Florida as possibilities to open the season. This is a crazy piece of breaking news given that the season is starting in exactly a week. There’s going to be a ton of logistical issues if the Nationals can’t play in D.C. to open the season.

D.C.Mayor Muriel Bowser (D) has been among the most strict when it comes to relaxing COVID-19 policies amid the growing pandemic. This has not changed in recent weeks.

The biggest issue here is a proclamation forcing individuals to quarantine for 14 days should they be exposed to COVID-19. Authorities in the nation’s capital are unwilling to bend the rules for the Nationals. Remember, three players on the defending champs have already opted out of the season due to these concerns.

2020 MLB season still a go?

Despite issues with delayed test results, the Major League Baseball season is expected to start as planned on July 23. Teams will be playing exhibition games here over the next week to ramp things up.

All of this comes with the pandemic hitting the United States harder than any other country in the world. That includes north of 65,000 new COVID-19 cases in the past 24 hours alone.

The issue with starting a sports league during these times is primarily due to local authorities setting the rules. It could also be an issue for both the Dodgers and Angels in Los Angeles with Southern California being hit especially hard by the virus.