The Canadian government announced Monday that visitors entering the country, including professional athletes, will no longer have to be vaccinated against COVID-19. The new policy is scheduled to go into effect beginning in October.
Previously, athletes were included in the general group of people not permitted to cross the border and travel into Canada without being vaccinated against COVID-19
The announcement greatly affects MLB players, as well as NBA and NHL athletes. MLB is the only of those three sports currently in season, and as such, unvaccinated Major League Baseball players cannot play against the Toronto Blue Jays when their respective teams traveled to Toronto. Prior to the start of the 2022 season, seven Major League Baseball teams sat below 85 percent of their rosters being vaccinated.
The Blue Jays are likely to be one of the American League's Wild Card teams entering the playoffs, and a scenario theoretically could've happened in which Toronto hosted a playoff game against a team not at full strength because they had unvaccinated players.
"The removal of border measures has been facilitated by a number of factors, including modelling that indicates that Canada has largely passed the peak of the Omicron BA.4- and BA.5-fuelled wave, Canada's high vaccination rates, lower hospitalization and death rates, as well as the availability and use of vaccine boosters (including new bivalent formulation), rapid tests, and treatments for COVID-19," the government said in a release.
In addition, Canada has also announced that the country will no longer require people to wear masks on airplanes. Health Minister Jean-Yves Ducios pointed out that negative attitudes of some passengers made it difficult for airline crew members to enforce the mask mandates recently.
MLB sat well below the vaccination rate at the start of the season compared to other North American sports league that have teams in American and Canada. The NBA was at a 95 percent vaccination rate in December 2021, while the NHL had just four unvaccinated players prior to the start of the 2021-22 season.