One of Major League Baseball’s new health and safety measures will sound familiar to anyone who paid close attention to the NBA bubble this summer.
MLB announced Tuesday that it will require Kinexon contact-tracing devices to be worn in club facilities, while traveling with the team, and during team activities. The new measure is part of a revamped contact tracing process that MLB will put in place this year, along with other changes to health and safety measures.
“We were able to complete a successful and memorable 2020 season due to the efforts and sacrifices made by our players, Club staff and MLB employees to protect one another,” MLB said in a release. “The 2021 season will require a redoubling of those efforts as we play a full schedule with increased travel under a non-regionalized format,”
Back in July, the NBA passed out proximity monitors that would notify the wearer when another sensor was within six feet, promoting social distancing. When the NFL returned to action, it adopted the same Kinexon technology, which also tracks contacts between sensors and therefore those wearing them.
The sensors speed up contact tracing and make it more precise. They do not, as the NBA and Kinexon have stressed, record location.
MLB is the latest league to embrace the contact-tracing sensors. Its 2021 health and safety protocols also require teams to choose a contact tracing officer to oversee the process. If a player, coach, or other covered individual tests positive for COVID-19, that person’s close contacts will be required to quarantine for at least seven days, depending on test results.
Other new health and safety measures include:
- Expanded access to voluntary COVID-19 testing for family and household members.
- Mental health and well-being resources for players and staff members.
- A league-wide code of conduct that bans specific “high-risk” activities. For example, no indoor gatherings of 10 or more people, indoor restaurants, bars or lounges, fitness centers, entertainment venues, casinos. During Spring Training, covered individuals and members of their household are expected to quarantine, except for club activities, medical reasons, outdoor exercise, other low-risk outdoor activities, or “extraordinary circumstances.” Similar restrictions apply for road trips.
- A facemask enforcement officer for each team, and fines (which will be donated to charity) for not wearing a mask in club facilities and in the dugout.
As was the case last year, when MLB tightened restrictions midway through the season in response to COVID-19 outbreaks, MLB and the players association reserved the right to adjust health and safety protocols as the season progresses.