Blue Jays granted exemption to train in Toronto

TORONTO (AP) — All 30 Major League Baseball teams will train at their regular-season ballparks for the pandemic-shortened season after the Toronto Blue Jays received a Canadian federal government exemption on Thursday to work out at Rogers Centre.

Toronto will move camp from its spring training complex in Dunedin, Florida., where players reported for intake testing. The Blue Jays will create a quarantine environment at Rogers Centre and the adjoining Toronto Marriott City Centre Hotel, which overlooks the field.

This exemption does not cover the regular season and player travel between the U.S. and Canada.

COVID-19 cases are surging in Florida, and before this week several players and staff in Dunedin had tested positive. Canada and Toronto are reopening as the number of new cases declines.

“At its core, the plan necessitates players and club personnel to enter a closed environment at Rogers Centre, which is isolated from the general public,” the team said in a statement.

Players are to take private charter flights to Toronto this weekend.

“Only those that test negative for COVID-19 during the intake process will be permitted to join the travelling party to Canada,” the team said.

MLB required an exemption to a requirement that anyone entering Canada for nonessential reasons must self-isolate for 14 days. The U.S.-Canada border remains closed to nonessential travel until at least July 21, two or three days before opening day.

“While no final decision has been made on a site for Blue Jays regular season home games, the club’s preference remains Rogers Centre,” the team said. “The team continues to pursue this option with the health and safety of the general public and the team at the forefront.”

Federal and local health authorities in Canada approved a plan for the NHL to play in either Toronto or Edmonton, Alberta, but the plan does not involve travel back between the U.S. and Canada. The NHL is selecting hub cities — most likely two — where all the teams will play.

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