The Blue Jays have not played a regular season contest in Toronto since September 29, 2019 because of Canada's pandemic provisions. That fact will soon change, as the Blue Jays announced on Friday they have received a National Interest Exemption from the government to return to the country.
The exemption will allow the Blue Jays to return to Toronto in time for a homestand that begins on July 30. The Blue Jays will host the Kansas City Royals (three games), the Cleveland franchise (four), and the Boston Red Sox (three) at Rogers Centre before heading out on a west-coast road trip.
Shi Davidi of Sportsnet explained the Exemption and some of the finer details that the two sides still had to work out earlier this week. Here's part of what he reported:
It is not dissimilar from the plan used by the Montreal Canadiens during their NHL Stanley Cup semifinal series against the Las Vegas Golden Knights and the final against the Tampa Bay Lightning, involving multiple border crossings. Other exemptions were recently issued for the Olympic basketball qualifying tournament staged in Victoria and the ongoing Calgary Stampede.
Over the last two seasons, the Blue Jays have been forced to split their home games between Sahlen Field in Buffalo, New York and TD Ballpark in Dunedin, Florida. The Toronto Raptors were also impacted by these laws, causing them to relocate to Tampa Bay, Florida.
It's unclear how many fans the Blue Jays will be allowed to have in the stands upon their return. Unlike in the United States, where every MLB team has been allowed to resume having full houses, Canadian-based teams have had to proceed at a more cautious pace. Earlier this month, Quebec public health officials denied the Montreal Canadiens' request to increase their allotted attendance from 3,500 to 10,500 people for Games 3 and 4 of the Stanley Cup Finals.