Major League Baseball joined with three other professional sports leagues Monday, announcing temporary protocol for media in response to the increasing number of coronavirus cases around the world. Under the new guidelines, “only players and essential personnel may enter locker rooms and clubhouses at MLB facilities.” This decision was reached following consultation with infectious disease and public health experts regarding the coronavirus.
The new protocol will go into effect on Tuesday at all Major League facilities in both Florida and Arizona. MLB said it plans to continue its Spring Training schedule and currently has every intention of starting the regular season on time. Opening Day is Thursday, March 26.
MLB released a statement to detail its decision, which came after a conference call between the Commissioner’s Office and all 30 clubs on Monday evening.
“The health and safety of everyone in our communities is of the utmost importance to us,” the statement said. “We have been engaging on an ongoing basis with a wide range of public health experts, infectious disease specialists, and governmental agencies, including the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), to obtain the latest information. We are regularly conveying the guidance from these experts to Clubs, players, and staff regarding prevention, good hygiene practices and the latest recommendations related to travel. We are continuing to monitor developments and will adjust as necessary. While MLB recognizes the fluidity of this rapidly evolving situation, our current intention is to play Spring Training and regular season games as scheduled.
“On a temporary basis, effective on Tuesday, only players and essential personnel may enter locker rooms and clubhouses at MLB facilities. In a joint step with other professional sports leagues, we are requiring that Clubs relocate media availabilities to another area in their facilities. Clubs will be expected to provide best efforts in facilitating usual media coverage and access to uniformed personnel and team officials in these alternate settings. Access for and coverage by the BBWAA and all media are vital to our game and we hope to resume normal operations as quickly as possible. We appreciate the media’s cooperation with this temporary step, which is being taken out of an abundance of caution for the best interests of all.”
MLB also issued a joint statement with the National Basketball Association, National Hockey League and Major League Soccer regarding the decision to limit access to clubhouses and locker rooms.
“After consultation with infectious disease and public health experts, and given the issues that can be associated with close contact in pre- and post-game settings, all team locker rooms and clubhouses will be open only to players and essential employees of teams and team facilities until further notice,” the joint statement said. “Media access will be maintained in designated locations outside of the locker room and clubhouse setting. These temporary changes will be effective beginning with tomorrow’s games and practices.
“We will continue to closely monitor this situation and take any further steps necessary to maintain a safe and welcoming environment.”