The Canadian government will allow the Blue Jays to return to Toronto and play their home games in the city, multiple outlets reported Monday.
An official announcement is expected to come early this week, with the Blue Jays players arriving in Toronto by the middle of the week. Major League Baseball’s resumed spring training begins Wednesday.
Federal approval is needed because non-essential travel between Canada and the United States has been banned since March 20 amid the coronavirus pandemic. The travel ban is in place until July 21 but could be extended.
“I’ve been in conversation with (team president and CEO) Mark Shapiro all weekend,” Ontario Premier Doug Ford told Sid Seixeiro of Sportsnet Radio. “He’s just waiting for the letter of support from the Federal government. There’s a few tweaks here at the province that the doctors want to work out with him.”
The Blue Jays are planning to play their 30 home games at Rogers Centre against opponents from the American League East and National League East. Shapiro previously said there would be no fans in the stands.
The team will be required to quarantine for 14 days. The Toronto Marriott City Centre Hotel is attached to Rogers Centre, and the team reportedly will stay there because direct access would allow them to go back and forth between their rooms and the stadium.
The Blue Jays’ less-preferred option was to play the season at their spring training site in Dunedin, Fla.
An unspecified number of Blue Jays players and staffers tested positive for COVID-19 last week, which Shapiro said he expected.
“Any time you do comprehensive tests, the numbers go up,” Shapiro said on a conference call on Friday. “We are testing every single person at intake. That’s going to be part of the transition process into creating the closed environment as much as possible around our players.”
–Field Level Media