'This is a bit of a manufactured controversy:' Tory says he's confident MLB players will follow the rules
Published Friday, July 17, 2020 7:58AM EDT
Last Updated Friday, July 17, 2020 1:43PM EDT
Mayor John Tory says he "will have no hesitation" pulling his support for hosting Blue Jays home games here in the city if players do not follow the rules in place to protect the public from COVID-19.
On Thursday, Premier Doug Ford said the province has given the green light to a plan that would see the Blue Jays play home games at the Rogers Centre this summer.
Tory said the plan, which still needs federal approval, includes 150 pages of rules that teams must follow to keep members of the public safe.
"I can't say that I've read all 150 pages but I do know our medical officer of health and the provincial medical officer and the federal people have all looked at it and met about it extensively, including meetings with players," Tory told CP24 on Friday.
Tory said "extensive efforts" will be made to make sure the players are not in contact with the public at large and there will be "extensive disinfection efforts."
"The basic routine for players will be you get off the plane at the airport, you get testing much more rigorous than is applied to any private citizen or anyone else crossing the border... you transport yourself in a private bus to the hotel, you stay in the hotel, you play the game, you get back on the bus, and you leave," Tory said.
"Baseball is taking it very seriously. The visiting teams will take it very seriously. Do they want to get sick themselves? Do they want to make other people sick? Do they want to have the entire season end up getting shut down because somebody didn't follow the rules?"
Some opponents of the plan have been critical about the fact that travel exemptions are being made for baseball players at a time when COVID-19 cases continue to surge in parts of the United States.
Tory said the city's own medical officer of health has identified the risk posed by players as "very, very low."
"These are mature adults who I think understand that there is a lot at stake here. I just think this is a bit of a manufactured controversy," the mayor said.
"There are 200,000 people coming back and forth across the border every day and they have way less in the way of rules."
Tory noted that if it comes to light that players aren't following the rules, he will take action.
"People do not need to think that somehow this was a decision that was made in a cavalier manner and for myself, I wouldn't have said yes to it if our medical officer of health hadn't been comfortable," he said.
"If she comes to me and says it is not safe anymore because people are not following the rules, I will have no hesitation for my part to phone the Blue Jays and say this is over."
'These are the most conspicuous people in town'
Infectious disease expert Dr. Isaac Bogoch told CP24 on Friday that he is "optimistic" this type of plan can be successful.
"It may very well be an opposing player comes in and they may very well have COVID-19. Is this going to trigger an outbreak in the general community? I think the probability of that is extraordinarily low," he said.
"If you come in via private plane, take your private transport to your hotel, which is right attached to the field and you don't go outside of those areas... you are not going to give this infection to anyone else except those who may be in that quarantine with you."
Bogoch noted that the players will be "under a microscope" while they are in the city.
"If someone leaves the hotel and is walking around and having a beverage on a patio somewhere, it is going to be all over the press, it is going to be all over social media. These are the most conspicuous people in town," he added.
" I really think that if it is approved, I'm pretty confident that people will adhere to the quarantine and if they don't they are going to face a significant penalty."