It’s still January, but the baseball season isn’t far off, and spring training is even closer. With MLB commissioner Rob Manfred reportedly telling teams to prepare for a regular 162-game season, the league is also preparing for fans to attend games in some cities.
In a memo to all teams obtained by the Los Angeles Times, MLB set “minimum health and safety standards” for fan attendance in the upcoming season. MLB will not require fans to show proof that they’ve recently tested negative for COVID-19 or received the COVID-19 vaccination before attending a game. Similar to the 2020 postseason, MLB will also not mandate that teams implement temperature checks before entering the ballpark.
Additionally, masks will be required at all times (except for eating and drinking), and social distancing will be required when entering a ballpark and while inside.
Why are there no requirements on testing and vaccination?
According to the Los Angeles Times, the memo explained why neither testing nor vaccination will be required to attend games this season.
In explaining why testing would not be mandated, the league said: “Mass testing of this kind is not practical with the existing rapid testing options, and testing is of limited utility when done days in advance of an event.” The league said its guidance could change in the event of “any major advancement in testing technology.”
In the memo, the league also noted the “uncertainty surrounding COVID-19 vaccine production and distribution” and advised teams to consult legal counsel before imposing a vaccination requirement upon fans.
Since rapid testing isn’t widely available, and the vaccine rollout around the country has been disastrous at best, MLB doesn’t believe it’s feasible to require fans to obtain either before attending a game.
The memo reportedly noted that the health and safety requirements are just the minimum. Teams will have the power to implement temperature checks or require proof of testing or vaccination, and they’ll of course be required to follow the regulations set out by their cities and counties. A number of MLB cities still have bans on fans attending professional sporting events, including California.
Fans could attend spring training games
While no team has made spring training tickets available for purchase, it’s possible that could change soon. In the memo, MLB reportedly opened the door for spring training tickets to be sold in “pods,” or groups, which is also how tickets for regular season games will be sold. The size of the pods were not reported, but each group would be required to stay at least six feet away from each other at all times.
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