“Based on the best-available public health advice, we have concluded the cross-border travel required for MLB regular-season play would not adequately protect Canadians’ health and safety. As a result, Canada will not be issuing a National Interest Exemption for the MLB’s regular season at this time.”
The federal denial comes after the Jays were given clearance by city and provincial governments to play regular-season games at Rogers Centre. Where the Blue Jays will play has not been determined.
Major League Baseball needed an exemption so that anyone entering Canada for nonessential reasons did not have to self-isolate for 14 days, as required. The US-Canada border is closed to nonessential travel until at least Aug. 21.
The NHL has received an exemption for its restart to the season, but that league’s games are restricted to two hubs — Edmonton and Toronto.
The Blue Jays were scheduled to start July 24 at Tampa Bay. Their home opener would have come five days later against Washington.
The Blue Jays received an exemption for summer training, but the players agreed to isolate in the hotel attached to Rogers Centre and create a quarantine environment. Players were 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.
The Washington Nationals faced a similar ban on playing at its home field in DC, but managed to get an exemption that will allow them to return.