Erie County and MLB reach agreement on protocols and safety measures for Blue Jays games at Sahlen Field


BUFFALO, N.Y. (WIVB)–Erie County Executive Mark Poloncarz says he and County Health Commissioner Dr. Gale Burstein participated in a video conference to discuss protocols and safety measures that will be in effect for all Blue Jays games played at Sahlen Field.

This applies to all visiting teams in our area, including the Blue Jays, according to officials.

In the discussions with MLB, Bisons, and Rich Products officials, were actions all teams will take in Buffalo, including daily testing and travel.

Travel includes arrival at the Buffalo Niagara International Airport, hotels, Sahlen Field, and departure from the region through the BNIA.

Poloncarz says the discussions also included a review of the MLB amended 2020 operations manual, team hotel protocols, and team actions to ensure the safety of their traveling party and the general public.

Officials tell News 4 MLB representatives confirmed that players, coaches, and all other visiting team staff, cannot leave their hotel except to go by bus to Sahlen Field or the airport.

And except for teams congregating to eat within the hotel, personnel may not leave their hotel rooms.

County officials say MLB representatives also confirmed that teams traveling from a state with significant rates of COVID-19 transmission, will be subject to the New York State Department of Health’s guidance on professional sports teams traveling from a state with a substantial spread of COVID.

Additionally, the MLB agreed to follow any health and safety orders as issued by the Erie County Health Department and County Executive’s Office through an emergency executive order.

The MLB will also provide any requested health, safety, and other information necessary to ensure the safety of the general public, to the Health Department.

“We applaud Major League Baseball’s (MLB) focus on practicing robust public health measures to ensure that team players and the community remain healthy and safe. County Executive Poloncarz and I left the meeting feeling confident that strong safeguards are in place to prevent COVID-19 transmission among the players or in our community,” Dr. Burstein said.

In a release Thursday afternoon, Poloncarz commented on the video conference with the MLB:

”I thank the representatives from Major League Baseball, the Toronto Blue Jays, Rich Products and the Buffalo Bisons for discussing with us today their plans for playing games at Sahlen Field and off-field operations to ensure the health and safety of not only their teams but our public. Based on our conversation and the protocols put in place, it is apparent to me MLB is taking extremely serious the safety of all, especially since the COVID-19 outbreak occurred with the Miami Marlins. They sincerely heard our concerns and agreed to every request we made, including adherence by all teams to my future issuance of an executive order regarding team travel and hotel stays to and from our region and working with the Health Department to ensure the safety of all.”

Troy Licastro is a digital content producer who has been part of the News 4 team since 2018. See more of his work here.

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