Reports: Canada to lift vax rules, affecting teams

TORONTO — Canada likely will drop the vaccine requirement for people who enter the country by the end of September, according to multiple reports Tuesday, a move that impacts unvaccinated professional athletes who travel there for games.

To enter the country, the Canadian government currently requires a person to have received a second COVID-19 vaccine dose — or one dose of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine — at least 14 days before entry. But the government likely will be dropping the requirement, pending a final sign-off from Prime Minister Justin Trudeau.

In baseball, unvaccinated players have been placed on the restricted list during their teams’ games in Canada. They are not paid and do not accrue major league service time, according to a March agreement between Major League Baseball and the players’ association. Canada’s lifting of its restrictions would now allow unvaccinated major leaguers to play in Toronto in the playoffs should the Blue Jays make the postseason.

In the NBA, teams were informed via a memo last month that players still need to have either received a primary course of a COVID-19 vaccine, or been given a medical clearance from getting one, in order to play games in Canada. But that would no longer be necessary once the restrictions are lifted.

The vast majority of NHL players were vaccinated last season, with one notable exception being Todd Bertuzzi of the Detroit Red Wings.

Information from The Associated Press was used in this report.

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