TORONTO (AP) — Major League Baseball has submitted a plan to the Canadian government to play in Toronto this year and health authorities are examining it.
Anna Maddison, a spokeswoman for the Public Health Agency of Canada, said Wednesday the restart plan is being reviewed.
“The resumption of activities in Canada must be undertaken in adherence to Canada’s plan to mitigate the importation and spread of COVID-19,” Maddison told The Associated Press.
“The Public Health Agency of Canada has received, and is currently assessing, a restart plan from Major League Baseball,” she said.
Maddison also said big league baseball requires the formal support of health authorities in Ontario.
Anyone entering Canada for nonessential reasons must quarantine for 14 days, and the U.S.-Canada border remains closed to nonessential travel until at least July 21.
On Tuesday, the Canadian government said it was open to MLB playing in Toronto this summer, but the league had not submitted the required plan to health authorities. A senior federal government official said if MLB submitted an acceptable restart plan to the government, an exemption letter similar to the one provided to the National Hockey League could be provided. The official spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to speak publicly about the matter.
MLB announced Tuesday night it will have a 60-game regular season that will start July 23 or 24 in ballparks without fans.
There has been talk the Blue Jays could play at their training facility in Dunedin, Florida, but the facility was shuttered after one player showed possible COVID-19 symptoms.
A person familiar with the situation told the AP that several players and staff members of the Blue Jays have since tested positive for the coronavirus. The person confirmed the test results to the AP on condition of anonymity Wednesday because there was no official announcement, but did not specify a number.
The virus upended plans of many clubs to resume training at their Florida facilities due to a rise in cases in the state. Most teams intend to work out in their regular-season ballparks.
Dr. Andrew Morris, a professor of infectious diseases at the University of Toronto and the medical director of the Antimicrobial Stewardship Program at Sinai-University Health Network, said he does not see how the government can approve MLB playing in Canada.
“The current situation in the U.S. right now is a disaster. It’s a total disaster and it’s most of a disaster in the South and West. Baseball players are included in that disaster,” Morris said. “There’s no way that having people coming and going from the U.S. is in anyway a good idea because you are going to be bringing in people with COVID into the country.”
Morris said the Canadian government should say no.
“It’s not a good idea,” Morris said. “I can’t see them allowing this. It’s based on public health principles. When I last checked, pro sports isn’t in the category of essential services. And I’m a big sports fan. It’s a hard sell.”
Federal and local health authorities in Canada have approved a plan for the NHL to play in either Toronto, Edmonton, Alberta, or Vancouver, British Columbia, but the plan does not involve travel back and forth between the U.S. and Canada. That decision last week comes as the NHL enters the advanced stages of selecting its hub cities — most likely two — from a list of seven in the U.S. and three in Canada.
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