(The Canadian Press)

(The Canadian Press)

Ontario says Blue Jays cleared to play at home, but final decision lies with feds

Feds still reviewing the Blue Jays’ and Major League Baseball’s plan for regular season games

Ontario Premier Doug Ford says he’s looking forward to the Toronto Blue Jays playing at Rogers Centre this season after a member of his government said the Major League Baseball team has been given the green light to play games at home.

The federal government, however, hasn’t yet approved the plan.

Ontario’s Minister of Heritage, Sport, Tourism and Culture Industries Lisa MacLeod told Ottawa’s TSN Radio 1200 on Thursday that the Blue Jays have clearance to play in Toronto and travel to the United States for road games during the COVID-19 pandemic.

She said teams visiting Toronto will stay inside a quarantine bubble, which would include Rogers Centre and a hotel. MacLeod said the agreement will be rescinded if the protocols put in place are broken.

Because the plan would involve multiple crossings of the Canada-U.S. border both by the Blue Jays and by visiting teams, the final say on whether the plan can go ahead rests with the federal government. Canada currently requires individuals to quarantine for 14 days after crossing the international border.

While MacLeod said the Blue Jays “have been cleared by the federal government to play in both countries,” the federal government has yet to confirm that is the case.

Public Health Agency of Canada spokeswoman Natalie Mohamed said the immigration minister had issued a national interest exemption to the League’s players and staff members specific to pre-season training phases 1 and 2 earlier this month.

READ MORE: NHL no longer considering Vancouver as hub city

The Canadian government is still reviewing the Blue Jays’ and Major League Baseball’s plan for regular season games, she said in a statement.

Toronto Mayor John Tory said he urged the federal and provincial governments to approve MLB’s plan.

“This is one of the most extensive protocols I’ve ever seen to keep people safe in the city of Toronto,” Tory said. “They are going to actually sacrifice a lot by having themselves confined, largely when they are not out of town, to the hotel premises.”

The Blue Jays declined comment when reached by The Canadian Press. The federal government did not immediately respond for comment.

Canada’s deputy public health officer Dr. Howard Njoo had expressed concerns about the plan Tuesday, saying Canada and the United States are in very different places with regards to COVID-19.

Njoo said while Canada typically records around 300 new COVID-19 cases daily, the United States records over 60,000 cases per day.

Ford was asked why the Ontario government approved the plan.

“We got approval from the (Toronto) chief medical officer, and we discussed it with Mayor (John) Tory as well. We discussed it with the chief medical officer of Canada along with the deputy prime minister. And on top of it we talked to (Ontario chief medical officer) Dr. (David) Williams and our medical team. And yes I look forward to seeing them play even if it’s in an empty stadium.

“Folks if you’d seen the protocol, I think Major League Baseball’s was 150 pages,” he added. ”They’re probably even stricter than our chief medical officers.”

Tory doesn’t want the Blue Jays to be the only MLB team not to play in its home stadium.

“I have faith,” Tory said. “I’m very confident that this stereotype that we’re going to see all these people running around partying will not take place.”

The Blue Jays’ 60-game season starts July 24 at Tampa Bay, with the home opener set for July 29 against the Washington Nationals.

The Blue Jays currently are holding training camp at Rogers Centre after getting approval from the federal government.

The Canadian Press

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Want to support local journalism? Make a donation here.

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Emma Garriott is releasing her second album titled ‘Sad White Girl Angst.’ (Emma Garriott / Facebook photo)
North Island musician releases second album titled ‘Sad White Girl Angst’

“When you hear it, I want you to feel like your best friend in the whole world is sitting beside you’

Environment Canada has issued a special weather statement forecasting windy weather Sunday and Monday. (News Bulletin file photo)
More windy weather on the way for Vancouver Island

Environment Canada issues special weather statement for Victoria, east coast of Island, north Island

Jay Vaughn, Brian Pohto and Janet Pohto opened up the Island Sun’s tuna freezers for anyone worried about food thawing over the four-day power outage on Malcolm Island. (Christopher Hurst photo)
Community shines bright during power outage

Hardest hit areas on the North Island stepped up to keep neighbours warm and fed

Mary Cox and Jack Plant dance in their pyjamas and slippers at the morning pyjama dance during the Rhythm Reelers’ 25 Annual Rally in the Valley Square Dance Festival in Chilliwack on June 4, 2011. Sunday, Nov. 29, 2020 is Square Dancing Day. (Jenna Hauck/ Chilliwack Progress file)
Unofficial holidays: Here’s what people are celebrating for the week of Nov. 29 to Dec. 5

Square Dancing Day, Disability Day and International Ninja Day are all coming up this week

Black Press Media and BraveFace have come together to support children facing life-threatening conditions. Net proceeds from these washable, reusable, three-layer masks go to Make-A-Wish Foundation BC & Yukon.
Put on a BraveFace: Help make children’s wishes come true

Black Press Media, BraveFace host mask fundraiser for Make-A-Wish Foundation

A small crash in the water south of Courtenay Saturday afternoon. Two men had to be rescued, but reports indicate there were no serious injuries. Photo by Mike Chouinard
Small plane crash in Comox Valley waters Saturday afternoon

Two rescued from plane that had flipped in water; no serious injuries reported

A photo from 2017, of Nuchatlaht First Nation members outside court after filing a land title case in B.C. ( Submitted photo/Nuchatlaht First Nation).
Vancouver Island First Nation calls on B.C. to honour UNDRIP in historic title case

Nuchatlaht First Nation says Crown counsel continues to stall the case using the ‘distasteful’ argument that the Nation ‘abandoned’ their land

West Vancouver Island’s Ehattesaht First Nation continues lock down after 9 active cases were reported today after a visitor tested positive last week. (Ehattesaht First Nation/Facebook)
Ehattesaht First Nation’s COVID-19 nightmare: nine active cases, a storm and a power outage

The Vancouver Island First Nation in a lockdown since the first case was reported last week

114 Canadians were appointed Nov. 27 to the Order of Canada. (Governor General of Canada photo)
Indigenous actor, author, elder, leaders appointed to Order of Canada

Outstanding achievement, community dedication and service recognized

The Ahousaht First Nation confirmed its first case of COVID-19 on Nov. 26, 2020. (Westerly file photo)
Ahousaht First Nation on lockdown over COVID-19

“Emotions are high. The anxiety is high. We want our community to pull through.”

Screenshot of Pastor James Butler giving a sermon at Free Grace Baptist Church in Chilliwack on Nov. 22, 2020. The church has decided to continue in-person services despite a public health order banning worship services that was issued on Nov. 19, 2020. (YouTube)
2 Lower Mainland churches continue in-person services despite public health orders

Pastors say faith groups are unfairly targeted and that charter rights protect their decisions

Most Read