TORONTO — The Blue Jays have been denied approval by the Canadian government to play in Toronto amid the coronavirus pandemic.
An official familiar with the matter told The Associated Press Saturday the federal government has denied the request. The official spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to speak ahead of the announcement.
The team had been given clearance by city and provincial governments to play regular-season games at Rogers Centre and was awaiting approval from Canada’s federal government.
MLB needed an exemption to a requirement that anyone entering Canada for nonessential reasons must self-isolate for 14 days. The U.S.-Canada border remains closed to nonessential travel until at least Aug. 21.
Allowing games in Toronto would have meant frequent back-and-forth travel to the U.S., where COVID-19 cases are surging. Canada has flattened the epidemic curve.
The NHL has received an exemption for its restart to the season, but that was a far simpler case because the games are restricted to two hubs — Edmonton and Toronto.
The Blue Jays are scheduled to start the season July 24 at Tampa Bay. Their home opener was set for five days later against Washington.
The Blue Jays received an exemption for summer camp, during which the players agreed to isolate in the hotel attached to Rogers Centre and create a quarantine environment. Players are not allowed to leave the stadium or hotel and violators face fines of up to $750,000 Canadian ($551,000 U.S.) and up to six months in jail.
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