The Latest: Pirates lift mask rule for fully vaccinated fans

Fans watch players warm up for a baseball game between the Chicago Cubs and the Cincinnati Reds at Great American Ball Park in Cincinnati on Friday, April 30, 2021. (AP Photo/Jeff Dean) (Jeff Dean, Copyright 2021 The Associated Press. All rights reserved.)

The Latest on the effects of the coronavirus outbreak on sports around the world:


The Pittsburgh Pirates said on Friday that they will no longer require fans who have been fully vaccinated against COVID-19 to wear a facemask while at PNC Park.

Fans who are not yet fully vaccinated must continue to wear a facemask while at PNC Park as required by the Pennsylvania Department of Health.

Next week, the Pirates said they plan to announce details regarding capacity increases for the remainder of the season and further adjustments to the health and safety protocols at PNC Park.

“We are excited to be able to quickly adjust our facemask policy, consistent with the Department of Health’s announcement. This is another huge step in our return to normalcy here in Pittsburgh,” Pirates president Travis Williams said.

“We appreciate the patience and cooperation of our fans as we continue to adjust our health and safety protocols accordingly. We join our partners at Allegheny Health Network and Highmark Health in encouraging everyone to get vaccinated as soon as possible so that we can reach the 70 percent threshold in Pennsylvania and remove the mask mandate entirely.”


The Cincinnati Reds will have full capacity at Great American Ball Park beginning June 2.

That follows Governor Mike DeWine’s announcement ending Ohio’s coronavirus health orders.

“The Reds are grateful to Governor DeWine and all the state and local officials who collaborated to usher Ohio through this dangerous and difficult time,” said Phil Castellini, Reds president and chief operating officer.

“Our goal has always been to host as many fans as possible in a safe manner and we are excited to once again have every seat available for more fans to cheer on our Reds.”

Masks will be recommended, but no longer mandated at Great American Ball Park beginning June 2.


Five more teams have been able to relax coronavirus protocols after 85% of their players and other on-field personnel completed vaccination, raising the total to 12 of the 30 clubs.

Major League Baseball and its players’ union said Friday that four additional teams had reached the 85% level of having received final doses and would be able to relax protocols within two weeks once they are fully vaccinated. The teams were not identified.

Relaxed protocols include dropping the requirements for facemasks in dugouts and bullpens, and loosening restrictions on mobility during road trips.

MLB said 83.9% of all tier 1 individuals such as players, managers, coaches, trainers and support personnel had been partially or fully vaccinated.

There were 10 new positive results among 10,639 monitoring tests in the past week — three players and seven staff, a 0.09% positive rate. The New York Yankees said they had eight positive tests: shortstop Gleyber Torres, pitching coach Matt Blake, third base coach Phil Nevin, first base coach Reggie Willits and four traveling staff.

Thus far this season, there have been 54 positive tests — 30 players and 24 staff — among 156,276 samples tested, a 0.03% positive rate. The positive tests are among 22 teams.


Justin Haley will miss this weekend’s NASCAR races at Dover because of COVID-19 protocols.

Josh Berry will make his Cup Series debut for Spire Motorsports driving for Haley in Sunday’s Cup race at Dover International Speedway. Berry has one win this season in the second-tier Xfinity Series.

Zane Smith will drive the No. 11 Chevrolet at Dover in Saturday’s Xfinity Series race. Haley has six top-10 finishes in nine races this season. Smith will race in NASCAR’s second-tier series for the first time this season. Smith, a regular in the Truck Series, last made an Xfinity start in 2019.


The IndyCar race in Toronto has been canceled for the second consecutive year because of the pandemic.

The event was scheduled for July 9-11 but can’t take place because of restrictions in Canada. The race has been on the IndyCar schedule since 1986, and Penske Entertainment Corp. President and CEO Mark Miles called its cancellation “heartbreaking.”

Miles has previously said IndyCar would likely schedule a second race at another venue already on the IndyCar calendar if Toronto were canceled.

The current mid-summer portion of the schedule is set to resume Aug. 8 for the inaugural Music City Grand Prix on the streets of Nashville. That is the first of three races on consecutive weekends for IndyCar.


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