Blue Jays close to receiving approval to play in Toronto, says Ontario Prime Minister

TORONTO – Major League Baseball is close to gaining approval to play in Toronto amid the coronavirus pandemic, Ontario Prime Minister said Monday.

Ontario Prime Minister Doug Ford said municipal, provincial and federal authorities “gave their approval”, but the Toronto Blue Jays await a letter of support from the federal government.

He also said that Dr. David Williams, Ontario medical director, requires some adjustments to the game plan presented by MLB, which health authorities have been reviewing.

Ford said he has been in conversation with Blue Jays president Mark Shapiro all weekend.

He said the Blue Jays will arrive on July 1 to train.

MLB requires an exemption, as anyone entering Canada for non-essential reasons must self-isolate for 14 days, and the U.S.-Canada border is closed to non-essential travel until at least July 21.

A senior Canadian government official said last week that if MLB submitted an acceptable restart plan to the government, a letter of exemption similar to that provided to the National Hockey League could be provided. The official spoke to the AP on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to speak publicly about the matter.

MLB announced last week that it will have a regular 60-game season that begins July 23-24 on stadiums with no fans.

It has been said that the Blue Jays could play at their spring training facility in Dunedin, Florida, but several players and staff members of the Blue Jays tested positive for the coronavirus and the facility was closed.

The surge in cases of the virus in Florida overrode many clubs’ plans to resume training at their spring facilities. Most teams intend to train at their regular season stadiums.

Federal and local health authorities in Canada have approved a plan for the NHL to play in Toronto or Edmonton, Alberta, but the plan does not involve round-trip travel between the United States and Canada. That decision last week comes as the NHL enters the advanced stages of selecting its core cities, probably two, from an original list of seven in the United States and three in Canada. Vancouver, British Columbia has been withdrawn from consideration.