According to USA TODAY’s Bob Nightengale, the league “sent severe, revised protocol measures to all clubs Wednesday, threatening to suspend a player or staff member for the remainder of the season for repeated or flagrant violations.”
Beyond that, there now will be officials to monitor the hotels players are staying at as well as there clubhouses.
“We recognize that these changes place additional burdens and restrictions on players and staff,” the memo said, as reported by USA TODAY. “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.”
If a player “repeatedly or flagrantly” violates the new protocols, which includes wearing a mask when social distancing is not possible and when not on the field, they risk “being prohibited from further participation in the 2020 season and postseason.”
Here are what the revised protocols will look like, courtesy of Nightengale:
- Players and staff wear face coverings at all times, including the dugout and clubhouse, with the exception of players on the field. This includes all coaches on the field, and every member of the umpiring crew. They must also wear face coverings at all times in the hotel and at public places on the road.
- Clubs now are required to reduce the size of their traveling parties to only personnel who are absolutely essential to playing games. The compliance officers must certify that every member of the traveling party served an essential function on the road trip.
- Staff and players are strictly prohibited from meeting in hotel rooms while on the road (including to share food), and may not gather in any public areas of the hotel without permission from the team’s compliance officer. Each team will make at least one private large room at the hotel with food and other amenities that is configured to allow for social distancing. Yet, while eating and drinking, individuals are discouraged from talking to one another, or even facing one another.
- On road trips, clubs must provide a minimum of four buses, with a fully unoccupied row between players and staff members, while prohibiting side-by-side seating. On planes, players and staff members are prohibited from having more than two individuals in a row, and they can’t sit across from one another. They also are prohibiting anyone from leaving their seats except to use the lavatory. Players and staff members also must wear surgical masks or N95/KN95 respirators on the plane, prohibiting cloth face coverings.
- Eating and drinking is still permitted on planes, but players and staff are prohibited from talking to one another at the same time.
- Any player or staff member must notify their compliance officer if they intend to leave the hotel on the road. The officer will decide whether their planned trip outside the hotel complies with the manual and the club’s code of conduct.
- All clubs now are required to provide outdoor, covered spaces for all visiting players and staff members to sit. Whenever possible, players and players are also encouraged to eat outdoors instead of the clubhouse.
- While at home, players and staff members are strictly prohibited from visiting bars, lounges, malls, or places in which large groups gather.
- Players and staff members who have been ordered to quarantine or isolate on the road may not leave their hotel rooms under any circumstance. Any club official who does not receive permission from the commissioner’s office to end their quarantine or isolation is subject to discipline.
There already have been a slew of games postponed or cancelled due to the outbreak. So it certainly makes sense the league wants to have stricter protocols in order to avoid taking more games off an already shortened 2020 schedule.