Toronto Blue Jays get government approval to return to Canada on July 30

TORONTO – It has been nearly 22 months since Toronto Blue Jays fans watched Vladimir Guerrero Jr. rip through the blanket with a fastball in the center of the Rogers Center.

TORONTO – It has been nearly 22 months since Toronto Blue Jays fans watched Vladimir Guerrero Jr. rip through the blanket with a fastball in the center of the Rogers Center.

They haven’t seen left-handed ace Hyun-Jin Ryu or great free agent signing George Springer living in a Blue Jays uniform at all.

After nearly two years as baseball nomads, however, the Blue Jays are finally coming home after getting approval to play in Toronto from the federal government on Friday.

The team said in a statement that they will resume playing home games at Rogers Center from July 30 after receiving a so-called national interest exemption.

The exemption, confirmed by the office of the federal Minister of Immigration, will allow players to cross the border without being subject to Canada’s COVID-19 travel restrictions.

“Following careful scrutiny by public health officials at all levels of government, a national interest exemption has been approved that will allow the Toronto Blue Jays to return to Toronto and play home games at the Rogers Center, ”Immigration Minister Marco Mendicino said in a statement. declaration.

“This decision was made in collaboration with the Public Health Agency of Canada, with the approval of provincial and municipal public health officials.

Mendicino said the plan includes tests before and after the arrival of all people crossing the border, and additional tests four times a week for those who are not vaccinated.

“This also includes important limitations for unvaccinated people, who will have to undergo a modified quarantine, will not be allowed to go anywhere other than the hotel and stadium and will have no interaction with the general public,” he said. -he declares.

Toronto is scheduled to start a three-game home game against the Kansas City Royals on July 30. The Jays haven’t played at Rogers Center since September 29, 2019, an 8-3 win over Tampa Bay.

The team played their home games during the shortened 2020 season in Buffalo, NY, and started that season in Dunedin, Fla., Before returning to Buffalo.

“First and foremost, the Blue Jays would like to thank Canadians for their unprecedented public health efforts and support to the team. Without you, Blue Jays baseball wouldn’t come home this summer, ”the team statement said.

The team added that they will reach 2021 and 2022 season ticket holders in the coming days, and that additional ticket information and health and safety guidelines will be available soon.

“So grateful for the support and hospitality in Dunedin and Buffalo, but after more than 650 days we will finally be coming home to HOME,” Blue Jays president Mark Shapiro said on Twitter. “I can’t tell you how excited we are to play in front of our fans and in our city and our country.

“Get ready Toronto – we’re coming back! “

The return of the Blue Jays is the final step in the return to normalcy of professional sport north of the border.

Ottawa granted the NHL a travel exemption for the final two rounds of the Stanley Cup playoffs and recently approved a plan that allowed CFL players and staff to return to Canada without undergoing a full 14-day quarantine. .

Major League Soccer Toronto FC and CF Montreal teams will host games against opponents from the United States on Saturday. Although a quarantine exemption has not been granted to MLS, fully vaccinated athletes with a work permit can enter the country without completing a 14-day quarantine.

The Blue Jays entered Friday night’s game in Buffalo against the Texas Rangers in third in the American League East standings with a 45-42 record and four and a half games on an American League wild card spot. .

As the team struggles to get out of the middle of the pack, they are arguably one of the most entertaining teams in the league.

Guerrero is having a stellar season and was named the All-Star MVP on Tuesday after his rocket home run helped the AHL to a 5-2 win over the National League.

He forms a solid attacking core with Marcus Semien and Teoscar Hernandez – also stars – as well as Bo Bichette and Cavan Biggio. That could be further increased if Springer, beset in his first season at the Jays with injuries, begins to get back into shape.

Ryu and talented rookie Alek Manoah highlight a decent starting rotation that is often let down by a poor reliever box.

Ryu’s big off-season signings in December 2019 and Springer a year later, and the Blue Jays’ return to the playoffs in 2020 after a three-year absence, were among the recent highlights that Jays fans have had to take in. from afar.

If the Jays have another playoff run this year, they will do it at home.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published on July 16, 2021.

The Canadian Press

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