MLB Relaxes COVID-19 Restrictions for Vaccinated Players, Coaches, Staff

Jenna CiccotelliAnalyst IIMarch 29, 2021

Balls marked with Cactus League spring training logos are seen in a basket during Kansas City Royals baseball practice at Kauffman Stadium Friday, July 3, 2020 in Kansas City, Mo. (AP Photo/Charlie Riedel)
Charlie Riedel/Associated Press

MLB players who are vaccinated against COVID-19 will have more relaxed protocols that will allow them to "mostly restore their normal lives," according to ESPN's Alden Gonzalez.

In a memo sent to teams Monday, MLB "strongly encouraged" players and team staff to get vaccinated and outlined the new guidelines for individuals who are vaccinated or are part of a team that has 85 percent of individuals in Tier 1 fully vaccinated.

The new guidelines have updated guidance on wearing masks as well as eating at restaurants and gathering with others.

Individuals who meet the new requirements can gather in hotel rooms and exercise without masks. They will also be allowed to go out to restaurants and meet outside with anyone while traveling, and they won't have to inform a compliance officer when they leave the team hotel. Carpools and card games on airplanes can resume, while teams with 85 percent of Tier 1 individuals vaccinated will be allowed to go maskless in dugouts and bullpens.

Those players will only have to test for COVID-19 twice per week and will not be required to quarantine if they are determined to be a close contact of someone with the virus, provided they are asymptomatic.

The relaxed restrictions come as MLB prepares to embark on its second season during the COVID-19 pandemic.

On Friday, MLB announced two players and two staff members tested positive for the virus among 13,978 tests administered, a positive rate of 0.03 percent. Seventeen tests have come back positive on 11 MLB teams throughout spring training.

Teams and their local governments will determine whether fans can attend games during the 2021 season, and the ballparks have varying policies. The Texas Rangers are planning to open to full capacity—40,518—while the Boston Red Sox and Washington Nationals will allow 12 percent of their capacity for Opening Day, per Gonzalez and Jesse Rogers of ESPN.