Major League Baseball has announced it is scaling back coronavirus rules for vaccinated players, three days before opening day.
According to a memo sent to teams obtained by USA Today, at least 85 percent of teams’ tier one players must first be fully vaccinated, with a two-week delay after the final inoculation, before the restrictions are softened.
The league will no longer mandate masks to be worn in dugouts, bullpens or weight rooms for vaccinated players and staff members, USA Today reported. In addition, vaccinated players do not have to wear masks when congregating with other fully vaccinated individuals in hotel rooms.
They must, however, continue to wear face coverings in clubhouses and training rooms.
Family and household members who are fully vaccinated, in addition to children who are not vaccinated, are now allowed to stay with players in their hotel rooms on the road, according to USA Today.
Vaccinated players are now permitted to carpool or use ride-sharing services to travel to and from club facilities, and they are allowed to play cards on planes and buses, as long as no unvaccinated individuals are within two rows of them, USA Today reported.
Players who receive their inoculations are also now allowed to attend in-person sponsorship or marketing events, in addition to indoor religious services.
Protocols were scaled back for some fans too: Family members and guests of players as well as staff will not have to sit in pods at games anymore, and will be allowed to mingle with other spectators, USA Today noted.
“I’m really excited about the opportunity that’s going to be available to the group,’’ St. Louis Cardinals manager Mike Shildt said, according to USA Today. “I know it allows us to open our world quite a bit. I respect everyone’s individual right to take it or not take it, but I’m excited about the possibilities of moving forward if we can meet a certain threshold.’’
Ahead of MLB’s opening day on April 1, several teams announced that a limited number of fans, under strict protocols, will be permitted in stadiums, including the Washington Nationals and the New York Yankees.