MLB Loosens Health And Safety Protocols For 2022 Regular Season

When cases of the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic began to strongly affect the United States in March 2020, MLB delayed the start of the regular season until late July.

When teams were finally able to return to the field, the league and Players Association (MLBPA) agreed on a list of health and safety protocols in an attempt to keep all MLB employees healthy while fans were prohibited from attending games.

Now two years later, cases are near their all-time low and continue to drop, which has caused mandates across the country to be eased and MLB is following by loosening their own protocols.

The league already dropped some protocols last season, such as mandatory masks for players in the dugout, but now MLB will no longer require players to wear electronic tracing wristbands and players will no longer be tested consistently, according to Ronald Blum of the Associated Press:

The requirement for tracing wristbands that were used last year is omitted. Players still be will tested upon intake in 2022 but will then be tested only when showing signs or reporting symptoms.

MLB also continued to loosen their guidelines for non-player personnel while they are on the field or in the dugout and bullpen, however, some limited rules remain in place while they are away from those areas if local laws require them:

Uniformed personnel “are not required to wear face coverings while on the field or in the dugouts and bullpens,” the protocols state. The same applies to “team charters, trains, buses, etc.,” though the federal Transportation Security Administration has a mask mandate in place for flights through April 18.

For indoor hitting tunnels, clubhouses, weight rooms and other indoor areas, players and uniformed staff “must wear approved face coverings when in those areas if required by applicable laws or regulations in that jurisdiction.”

Last season, MLB also required non-playing personnel to be vaccinated by the postseason, and those vaccination requirements are expected to continue into 2022.

Los Angeles Dodgers manager Dave Roberts has said the vaccination requirements shouldn’t be an issue for the team. L.A. was also one of the first organizations to reach the 85% vaccination threshold that was required during the 2021 season to loosen protocols.

MLB not requiring Minor League players to be vaccinated

Near the end of last year, the league started to require non-playing personnel to be vaccinated and appeared close to finalizing a vaccine mandate for Minor League players.

But this year, MLB decided against the Minor League vaccination requirement for the 2022 season, however, vaccines will be required for staff who are in contact with the players.

During the 2021 season, the vaccination rate across professional baseball was just less than 90%.

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