MLB announced Monday afternoon that Opening Day will be pushed back even further, following the recommendation of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to restrict events of more than 50 people for the next eight weeks during the coronavirus pandemic.
The earliest the season could kick off would now be mid-May, but MLB's statement added that the clubs remain "committed to playing as many games as possible when the season begins."
The season had already been delayed at least two weeks, with "social distancing" recommended over the weekend by MLB for spring training workouts for players who remain at team sites.
Since the coronavirus (also known as COVID-19) pandemic led to the shuttering of all major sports late last week, things have escalated as social distancing in order to prevent the spread of the virus has become the norm.
Many of the most-impacted cities in the United States -- New York City has ordered all concert venues and clubs to close, with restaurants and bars only permitted to provide take-out and delivery -- have encouraged or ordered citizens to practice social distancing, and the memo sent out Sunday by the CDC was in lockstep with the recent response from numerous local governments to the pandemic.
Large events and mass gatherings can contribute to the spread of COVID-19 in the United States via travelers who attend these events and introduce the virus to new communities," the memo reads. "Examples of large events and mass gatherings include conferences, festivals, parades, concerts, sporting events, weddings, and other types of assemblies. These events can be planned not only by organizations and communities but also by individuals.
Therefore, CDC, in accordance with its guidance for large events and mass gatherings, recommends that for the next 8 weeks, organizers (whether groups or individuals) cancel or postpone in-person events that consist of 50 people or more throughout the United States.
The memo adds that events of any size should only be carried out if they adhere to guidelines that protect vulnerable populations while practicing hand hygiene and social distancing. Schools and businesses are exempt.