The Blue Jays are heading back to Canada. They'll be there by the end of the month.
Toronto's MLB team announced Friday that it will resume playing home games at Rogers Centre on July 30. The club has been forced to play exclusively in the United States in 2020 and 2021 because of the Canada-U.S. border closure and the Canadian government's restrictions on nonessential cross-border travel in response to the COVID-19 pandemic.
The Canadian government approved the Jays' request for a National Interest Exemption to the border restrictions, The Associated Press reported. The team had wanted a response by Friday, the AP further reported. Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau is considering ending travel restrictions in mid-August.
The Blue Jays will host the Royals in the stadium's reopening. Toronto last played at Rogers Centre on Sept. 29, 2019. It is not clear what the stadium's seating capacity will be.
The Jays said in a statement that "robust health and safety protocols" will be in place. Canada's immigration minister, Marco Mendicino, said unvaccinated personnel "will have to undergo a modified quarantine, not be permitted to go anywhere but the hotel and stadium and have no interaction with the general public." A compliance officer will be assigned to each team, Mendicino said, per the AP.
Buffalo, N.Y., has been the Jays' home for the majority of their exile. They moved into an upgraded Sahlen Field, home of their Triple-A affiliate, in mid-August during MLB's shortened 2020 season. This year, they started their home schedule at their spring training stadium in Dunedin, Fla., before returning to Buffalo in June. The Bisons have been playing home games in Trenton, N.J., this year after having their 2020 season canceled because of COVID-19.
Jays players Alek Manoah and Jonathan Davis expressed their excitement about Friday's news while they prepared to play another game in Western New York.
Toronto Man(oah) and JD are ready to come home ❤️🇨🇦 pic.twitter.com/3TqqdCw5ht— Toronto Blue Jays (@BlueJays) July 16, 2021
The club, meanwhile, is excited about being able to reintroduce fans to a certain All-Star and MVP candidate.