Blue Jays Cleared for Return to Canada

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The Blue Jays last played on September 29, 2019, at their stadium in downtown Toronto, the Rogers Centre. Since then, the country’s only major league baseball team has had to find makeshift regular season homes within it, as the coronavirus pandemic has led to the closure of the Canadian border. Dunedin, Florida., in Buffalo, the spring training ground and where the franchise ousted the top minor league team.

Finally, after nearly two years, the Blue Jays are coming home.

On Friday, the team announced it would return to Toronto starting July 30 with a three-game series against the Kansas City Royals. The Blue Jays said the Canadian government has granted them a “national interest exemption” that allows Major League Baseball games to be played at the Rogers Center “with sound health and safety protocols in place”.

Canadian immigration minister, Marco Mendicino, said in a statement: a statement posted on the internet He said the Blue Jays were granted an exemption after “careful scrutiny” by public health officials “at all levels of government”.

“The plan includes important measures to ensure the safety of players, staff and the public.” “This starts with pre- and post-arrival testing of everyone, and additional testing four times a week for unvaccinated individuals. It also includes significant limitations on unvaccinated individuals who will have to undergo a modified quarantine, won’t be allowed to go anywhere other than hotels and stadiums, and have no interaction with the general public. ”

Mendicino said they would be compliance officers and if anyone connected with a team broke the rules, that person’s exemptions would be revoked and the person could also be fined or prosecuted under the country’s Quarantine Law.

The Blue Jays, who entered Friday’s 45-42 and finished third in the American League East, had been lobbying for a return to Canada since last year. They held a pre-season camp at Rogers Center last summer, but their request to host regular season games was turned down by government officials over fears that traveling teams could spread the virus.

In the pandemic-shortened, 60-game 2020 season, the Blue Jays played their home games in Buffalo at Sahlen Field, the headquarters of their Class AAA affiliates; The stadium’s capacity is three times smaller than the 49,000-seat Rogers Centre. With their young and talented roster, the Blue Jays ended a four-season playoff drought.

This year, the Blue Jays started the season by staying at their spring practice home, Dunedin, to kick off the regular season. on 1st of June, they moved back to Buffalo, here they upgraded the stadium for their major league needs.

The Blue Jays are scheduled to play 37 home games from July 30 until the end of the regular season.

Last month, Canada granted border travel exemptions for the final two rounds of the NHL playoffs. While the US-Canada border remains closed for non-essential travel, MLS teams from Toronto and Montreal have returned home last week after federal officials recently Relaxed pandemic border restrictions. They have allowed some fully vaccinated passengers, including foreign professional athletes with work permits, to enter without a 14-day quarantine as long as they comply with the tests before and after arrival.

Quarantine rules still applied to passengers who were not fully vaccinated. And not all MLB players and staff are vaccinated. As of the end of June, the MLB and players association said 85 percent of people in key player and staff categories had been vaccinated. But even then, teams with high vaccination rates grappled with virus issues, including yankees. second serious epidemic despite the team reaching the 85 percent threshold.

“First and foremost, the Blue Jays would like to thank the Canadians for their unprecedented public health efforts and their support of the team,” the team said in a statement. “Blue Jays baseball wouldn’t have come home this summer if it weren’t for you.”

On Canada Day, July 1, Blue Jays Manager Charlie Montoyo said the team misses home north.

“Buffalo was great for us, don’t get me wrong,” he said. told reporters. “But today, I wish we were in Toronto, man, it’s one of those days.” They will be soon.



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