MLB Eases On-Field Promotional Restrictions For Minor League Games
The strictest coronavirus restrictions on what minor league teams could do with between innings, on-field promotions and other activities lasted less than the length of the first homestand.
As vaccination rates continue to climb around the country and coronavirus cases decline, Major League Baseball relaxed some of the strictest restrictions for on-field promotions and other activities. In a memo sent to the 120 affiliated minor league teams on May 7, teams were told that they can now have on-field promotions, first pitches and national anthems.
In no way has business returned to its normal pre-pandemic routine, but the new requirements allow fans and minor league team staff to be on the field as long as they follow a significant list of requirements and prohibitions. Any fan/staffer entering the field must do so from a separate entrance than one used by players, coaches and umpires. Throughout their time on the field, the fans/staff will have to remain more than 12 feet away from the infield areas and bullpen. They cannot interact with any players, umpires or coaches. They cannot touch any equipment of the players, coaches, umpires or staff.
Every fan or staffer who steps onto the field is supposed to be masked as they enter and exit, although they can remove the mask to perform (sing the national anthem for instance). Everyone involved must quickly enter and exit, spending as little time on the field as possible.
Unmasked mascots are now allowed on the field as well (since the costume effectively serves as a mask), although they are still prohibited from getting onto their most natural domain—the tops of the dugouts (because of the prohibition on getting too close to players and coaches).
On-field first pitches and national anthems are now allowed. If a first pitch is thrown to a player (MLB recommends against this) the player must be fully vaccinated and cannot meet or greet the first pitch thrower afterward.
With the exception of the first pitch and the national anthem, all other activities cannot take place within 12 feet of the infield or any on-field bullpen areas. That includes any territory between the dugouts and the infield.
A number of teams have already adapted, bringing some promotions back onto the field. Others have continued to operate as they did when the season began. Before the restrictions were relaxed, many teams had decided to take their on-field promotions and move them to somewhere else in the stadium, using their video board to ensure that everyone in the crowd could see what was happening.