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Toronto Blue Jays to finally return home

The Toronto Blue Jays Major League Baseball team has been given the green light to return home after almost two years of playing games in the US due to travel restrictions imposed by COVID-19.

The Blue Jays, MLB’s only Canadian team, have not played at Toronto’s Rogers Centre since September 2019 due to the pandemic.

The team played the majority of its home games at Sahlen Field in Buffalo, New York during the 2020 season. At the start of the 2021 campaign, the Blue Jays played home games at TD Ballpark in Dunedin, Florida before returning to Sahlen Field from June 1.

The Blue Jays have now announced that Rogers Centre will host the team’s game against the Kansas City Royals on July 30 after a National Interest Exemption was granted from the Canadian federal government. The game, along with subsequent fixtures at Rogers Centre, will go ahead with a number of “robust” health and safety protocols in place as visiting teams travel to and from Canada.

Canada’s Minister of Immigration, Marco Mendicino, announced that players and team personnel will undergo pre- and post-arrival COVID-19 testing, with unvaccinated individuals to receive an additional four tests each week.

Unvaccinated individuals will also undergo a “modified quarantine” and will not be permitted to leave Rogers Centre or its adjoining hotel.

During the team’s stay in New York, the Blue Jays worked with Triple-A affiliate the Buffalo Bisons on a jointly funded renovation project for Sahlen Field. Upgrades included moving the bullpens off the field to behind the outfield walls, new batting cages beyond right field, resodding the outfield grass, a new weight room and renovated clubhouse facilities, new LED light bulb replacements, and two temporary lightpoles.

Image: Donna Lay on Unsplash