MLB COVID-19 Protocols for 2021 Season
Rob Manfred and MLB health officials have constructed an intense list of health and safety protocols for the 2021 MLB season. These rules are in place because of the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. Some of the league’s orders are new for the 2021 season, and many are still in place from last year’s 60-game slate.
The state of COVID-19 in the MLB will be monitored by a Joint COVID-19 Health and Safety Committee. This group will consist of one representative from the league and one from the Players Association. Additionally, two physicians will work alongside these representatives to monitor testing and other safety protocols throughout the year.
Here are the rules as of the beginning of Spring Training for all 30 clubs.
MLB COVID-19 Action Plan
Each team must submit a COVID-19 Action Plan that details their plan to combat the virus in their facilities. This plan must be approved by the Joint COVID-19 Health and Safety Committee. In this plan, all 30 clubs must appoint an Infection Control Prevention Coordinator and a Compliance Officer.
These two positions will be in charge of making sure the action plans are enforced throughout the league. If clubs do not follow their approved plans, they will be penalized.
Mandatory Five-Day Quarantine Before Spring Training
Players must quarantine for five days before arriving at Spring Training facilities and complete a mandatory health intake screening. This screening will include diagnostic and antibody testing.
Frequent MLB COVID-19 Testing
Players must be officially tested for COVID-19 at least every other day during Spring Training, the regular season, and the postseason for teams that earn the right to continue competing.
Along with COVID-19 testing, players must participate in a health screening twice per day where temperatures are recorded.
If a player tests positive for COVID-19, they will be required to quarantine for ten days, be approved by the team’s medical staff, and be cleared by the Joint COVID-19 Health and Safety Committee before returning to competition.
The MLB is also allowing free testing for family and household members of players and team personnel.
Mental Health Resources
The league will provide mental health resources to players and club staff beginning in Spring Training through the 2021 World Series.
New Code of Conduct for 2021
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Outside of team activities, players and staff members may not attend indoor gatherings of 10 or more people, indoor restaurants, bars, gyms, entertainment, or gambling facilities.
Family members living with players during Spring Training and the regular season must follow these same regulations.
In the postseason, players or family members may not leave the team hotel for anything that is not considered a low-risk activity. Family members must contact a club’s compliance director before leaving a team hotel.
Players or family members traveling with the team during the season cannot meet with members outside their team bubble. If a family member is not in the traveling party, a player cannot see this individual.
If these rules are broken, players are subject to fines, suspension, or salary forfeiture.
Players must wear Kinexon contact tracing devices inside team facilities and during road trips. Clubs will be responsible for hiring a Contact Tracing Officer to oversee this during the entire season.
They must also assign a physician to view contract tracing data to determine who will need to quarantine following a positive test. If someone is forced to quarantine because of contact tracing, they must isolate for seven days and test negative on day five of the cycle.
Players and coaches will have to wear face coverings at all times in the dugout. The only times that face coverings are exempt for players is when they are on the field or warming up before the game.
Players and coaches who do not comply will be fined. The money from these fines will go to charities throughout the United States.
No lineup cards will be exchanged during the pregame. Each team will enter their lineup into a mobile app created by the MLB.
Game and Roster Rules
All doubleheaders will be two seven-inning games. Games that go to extra innings will begin with a runner on second base. Players and coaches need to maintain social distance when possible.
Unsportsmanlike conduct will not be tolerated because of the lack of social distance typically involved in these exchanges. If managers or players come within six feet to argue the call, they are automatically subject to an immediate ejection.
The active roster for the regular season will be 26 players. It will expand to 28 in September. Teams can have as many pitchers as they would like on their 2021 rosters. If a club experiences a COVID-19 outbreak that dwindles its roster, the front office can temporarily add players to their squad.
All 30 franchises are permitted to bring five Taxi Squad players for all away trips. One of these players needs to be designated as a catcher before the season if a team chooses to include a Taxi Squad.
Taxi Squad players can train with the team on the road, but they cannot suit up or be in the dugout during games.
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