The MLB season approaches following a shortened 2020 campaign, and Commissioner Rob Manfred has reportedly told teams to prepare for a full 162-game schedule. Additionally, the league is preparing for fans to attend games in some cities but will reportedly not set minimum health standards. Attendees will not have to prove that they have received the COVID-19 vaccination or have tested negative.
The Los Angeles Times obtained a memo sent to all MLB teams discussing the upcoming season. The release explained that MLB will not require fans to show proof of a recent negative result or that they have received the coronavirus vaccination before attending a game. The league will also not mandate temperature checks at stadium entrances. Fans will have to wear masks at all times — except for eating and drinking — while social distancing will be required when entering the ballpark and while inside.
"Mass testing of this kind is not practical with the existing rapid testing options, and testing is of limited utility when done days in advance of an event," the memo said, per the LA Times. The outlet also reported that the league said its guidance could change due to "any major advancement in testing technology."
The league previously allowed a limited number of fans at the World Series and the National League Championship Series during the 2020 postseason. The league did not require any temperature checks at the Arlington, Texas, ballpark. This trend will likely continue during the 162-game schedule.
While the league will not mandate testing or vaccinations, it did acknowledge the potential of "pod seating" to start the season. Under these circumstances, tickets would be sold in groups, and there would be at least six feet between each "pod." However, not all state and local authorities will require this seating arrangement.
Spring training games will begin on Feb. 27 as the teams prepare for the upcoming season. None of the franchises have put tickets on sale for the exhibition games. Opening Day will take place on April 1 and will feature the Los Angeles Angels. California currently does not allow fans at sporting events due to a "widespread" outbreak. Fans can return to stadiums when levels reach "moderate" status.
When the MLB teams return to their respective seasons, they will do so with the goal of dethroning the defending World Series Champions in the Dodgers. The Mets will have a new figure aiding in this pursuit in Steve Cohen. The hedge fund manager was approved to purchase the team in late October, kickstarting a new era.