The ongoing process of deciding an official MLB start date just got a bit murkier as portions of Florida are put under a stay-at-home order.
Several South Florida counties, including Miami-Dade, Broward and Palm Beach, will effectively be shut down in an effort to curb the spread of COVID-19, Governor Ron DeSantis announced Monday. His executive Safer-At-Home order has now nixed any immediate spring training possibility for MLB teams anticipating the season’s delayed start.
“The ‘Safer-At-Home’ [order] is the right move for southeast Florida,” DeSantis said at a press conference Monday. “This is the time to do the right thing. Listen to all of your local officials. We will do this through the middle of May, and then see where we’re at.”
DeSantis’ last comment was later clarified, with the governor claiming he misspoke and was enforcing the order until mid-April. Nevertheless, the two-week social distancing period has further impacted the delayed MLB season. Teams with spring training bases in the affected counties will comply with the order, thereby limiting team workouts to fewer than ten people and scrapping any official training unless given an exemption.
Florida’s partial stay-at-home order comes after DeSantis faced widespread backlash for the state’s influx of spring break travelers crowding Miami-area beaches earlier this month. While beaches are now closed in Broward and Miami-Dade counties, they remain open in other parts of the state as the number of COVID-19 cases rise. At the time of this writing, Florida has recorded over 6,000 confirmed coronavirus cases and a death toll of 77.
MLB officials had previously pushed the league’s earliest start date to mid-May amid CDC guidelines limiting gatherings of more than 50 people. Assuming that target date marks the start of a training period, officials are reportedly hopeful that the season will be in full swing come June 1. As the league adjusts to daily developments, several scenarios have come to the forefront regarding how the season comes to be. Among the reported possibilities are a postseason or even cancelled All-Star Game, increasing double-headers, relocating games in infected cities and cutting back from the 162-game schedule.