Major League Baseball (MLB) is cracking down on COVID-19 safety protocols, mandating that players and staff wear face coverings at all times, including in the dugouts and bullpens, except for players on the field of play.
The league on Wednesday sent a memo to teams outlining changes to its 2020 operations manual after outbreaks on the Miami Marlins and St Louis Cardinals led to 21 postponements in the first two weeks of a shortened 60-game season.
The memo says that personnel that repeatedly or flagrantly breach the protocols could be banned from the season and postseason.
That includes those who do not wear face coverings while watching from the dugout.
Although such measures were suggested in MLB’s operations manual, some players have continued to not wear masks, offer high fives, spit and breach the protocols in other ways during games.
Umpires are also being instructed to wear masks at all times, except when it would make it unfeasible for them to do their jobs.
Compliance officers have been appointed for each team, and they have been charged with enforcing protocols outlined in the operations manual in an effort to keep baseball’s season running.
Players and staff must wear face coverings at all times at team hotels and in public places while on the road. On team buses and airplanes, personnel must wear surgical masks or N95/KN95 respirators.
At hotels, teams have been instructed to provide a large private room — a ballroom, for instance — where staff and players can get food and other amenities, while having enough space to maintain distance.
Players are discouraged from talking to each other or facing each other if their mask is pulled down while eating.
If players want to leave the hotel, they must first receive approval from the team’s compliance officer.
While in their home cities, players and staff are banned from visiting bars, lounges, malls or other places where groups of people are gathered, the memo said.
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