Report: MLB Relaxing COVID-19 Protocols for Vaccinated Players

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Major League Baseball issued a memo to teams outlining relaxed protocols for players, coaches and staff members who are have been vaccinated for COVID-19. 

The memo, which was obtained by ESPN's Alden Gonzalez, says the league would "strongly encouraged" players and staff members to receive an approved COVID-19 vaccine when eligible.

According to Yahoo Sports' Hannah Keyser, who also obtained the memo, while players are not mandated to receive the vaccine, once clubs achieve 85% vaccination in their Tier 1 (players and staff with direct contact with players), players and coaches with dugout access to games will no longer need to wear face masks in dugouts or bullpens and will also not have to wear the Kinexon tracking devices while in team facilities.

Individuals could also then gather without masks in hotel rooms, carpool together, play cards on airplanes, eat at restaurants, meet outdoors while on the road with anyone of their choosing and stay at a personal residence when traveling, among other details, per multiple reports.

According to reports, vaccinated individuals will also not need to quarantine if they are identified as having been in close contact with someone who tests positive, unless they have symptoms. 

According to USA Today's Bob Nightengale, several teams, including the Astros and Cardinals, are scheduled to undergo COVID-19 vaccinations Monday night.

The memo also said the league and Major League Baseball Players' Association “will continue to consider other potential modifications of the health and safety protocols for fully vaccinated individuals and Clubs throughout the 2021 season.”

The commissioner's office announced on Friday that there have been 17 positive tests — 12 for players, five for staff — during spring training. The positive tests spanned 11 of the league's 30 teams. 

Predicting the 2021 MLB Standings

All players on 40-man rosters and players with minor league contracts invited to big league training camp are screened for COVID-19. All other on-field personnel, such as managers, coaches and athletic trainers, strength and conditioning staff, and physicians, are also tested.

Last year's MLB season consisted of 60 games. There were 45 regular-season games postponed for virus-related reasons, with just two were not made up.

Opening Day is set for later this week.