Major League Baseball has its sights on returning to normal operations, but the league is emphasizing that lifting restrictions is contingent on ensuring that a significant portion of players on the field are vaccinated.
MLB released a memo Monday explaining that most virus protocols currently in place could be dropped once 85 percent of all players and essential staff have received a vaccine.
In the memo, which was reported by the Associated Press, MLB stated that “all players and staff are strongly encouraged to receive one of the approved COVID-19 vaccines when eligible.”
“For purposes of this memo, individuals are considered ‘fully vaccinated’ two weeks after receiving their second dose of a two-dose vaccine (Pfizer or Moderna) or two weeks after their first dose of a single dose vaccine (Johnson & Johnson),” the memo stated.
Few players have been vaccinated at present, but the pace of vaccination is expected to increase after teams return to their home cities after spring training.
According to the AP, the St. Louis Cardinals and Houston Astros will offer their players vaccines prior to their season openers.
Once players are vaccinated, they would be able to do things such as eating on flights, gathering in indoor spaces without masks and taking transportation such as Uber and Lyft. The move would also reduce the amount of testing the players would have to undergo.
“You really haven’t heard a whole lot about it,” said Cleveland manager Terry Francona, who was aware of the memo but said he hadn’t read through it. “In the beginning, I think everybody had their hopes up that when we get here you could just go back to normal. It took a few days for everybody to realize that’s not the way it’s going to be.
“The rules are in place. We’ve told them, whether you agree or disagree, if you have a positive, you’re going to get sent home and probably take somebody with you.”