Sports | August 6, 2020 11:56 am

MLB Tightens Protocols After Marlins and Cardinals Outbreaks

Players and staff must now wear masks at all times, except while on the field of play

MLB: AUG 02 Rays at Orioles
Tampa Bay Rays watch the game from the dugout wearing masks.
Nicole Fridling/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

In order to prevent the types of COVID-19 outbreaks that temporarily stopped the season for the Cardinals and Marlins, Major League Baseball is tightening its coronavirus safety protocols.

According to a six-page memo that was distributed to all teams and obtained by USA Today, players are now required to wear face coverings at all times, including in the dugouts and bullpens, except while on the field of play. They must also wear face coverings at all times in hotels and at public places on the road.

MLB has also hired compliance officials to monitor clubhouses and team hotels to assure there are no protocol violations, and repeated or flagrant violators of the league’s safety measures could be banned from participating in the 2020 season and playoffs.

The new rules are very strict and also put bans on side-by-side seating on buses, anyone leaving their seats except to use the bathroom on planes, leaving the hotel while on the road without consulting with the compliance official and any visitation to bars, lounges, malls or places in which large groups gather. While it is not banned, players and staff members are discouraged from talking to one another, or even facing one another, while eating and drinking.

“We recognize that these changes place additional burdens and restrictions on players and staff,’’ according to the memo. “But if we desire to play, they are necessary to limit infections and, if someone does test positive, to keep the virus from spreading. The behavior of every covered individual affects the players and staff on his or her team, and on other clubs as well. Everyone must be accountable for their own conduct because the careless or reckless actions of a few can impact the health and well-being of everyone.’’

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