Major League Baseball will not require fans to be tested or vaccinated for COVID-19 before attending games in 2021, according to a memo sent to teams on Monday obtained by the Los Angeles Times.
The league reportedly cited "uncertainty surrounding COVID-19 vaccine production and distribution" as part of the reason for its decision. MLB did acknowledge that guidelines could change pending "any major advancement in testing technology."
Though not mandated by the league, each team will still have the ability to set its own protocol regarding proof of vaccination, COVID-19 tests or temperature checks. Teams will need to submit health and safety plans to the league office for approval.
The memo reportedly outlines the "minimum health and safety standards" required for all MLB teams in welcoming fans to stadiums this season after the shortened 2020 regular season was held in empty ballparks amid the COVID-19 pandemic. A maximum of 11,500 fans were allowed for World Series games at Globe Life Field in Arlington, Tex.
MLB's memo reportedly states that it expects tickets to be sold in "pods" to allow for social distancing between groups of fans. Attendees will be mandated to wear masks at all times except when eating or drinking in their seats, and fans will not be allowed to watch morning workouts or other pregame activities "unless those events are held in the ballpark under the same seating plan as for games."
Commissioner Rob Manfred reportedly told MLB teams to prepare for the 2021 season to start on time with a full 162-game slate and spring training. The first spring training games are scheduled to take place on Feb. 27 with Opening Day of the regular season on April 1.