MLS has announced that upcoming matches in Seattle and San Jose have been postponed due to recent government rulings regarding the coronavirus.
The San Jose Earthquakes' match against Sporting KC and the Seattle Sounders' upcoming clash with FC Dallas have been officially postponed while MLS has announced further precautions following the recent outbreak.
"Following Santa Clara County's legal order banning all gatherings of 1,000 people or more and the state of Washington’s decision to restrict gatherings of more than 250 people in King County, Major League Soccer matches in San Jose and Seattle on March 21 are postponed. The league and its clubs are evaluating the options for rescheduling the matches at a later date," a league statement read.
"MLS clubs and stadium operators have implemented procedures to ensure the safety of fans and communities by increasing cleaning staff, disinfecting high-traffic areas, sanitizing the facilities before and after each match, and making hand sanitizer available throughout venues. MLS stadiums are also allowing guests to bring in their own bottles of hand sanitizer and encouraging fans who feel sick or are in vulnerable populations to enjoy the match at home. Clubs also will communicate with fans in advance of matches and post in-stadium signage to further educate about everyday preventative actions advised by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and Public Health Agency of Canada (PHAC)."
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In addition, the league has restricted locker room access, postponed player appearances and limited fan experiences during team warmups. Players, coaches and team staff will also be mandated to fly on charter flights for the foreseeable future.
"Providing a safe and healthy environment for our fans, players and everyone at MLS matches is our top priority," MLS stated. "During this rapidly changing issue, MLS remains in direct contact with the relevant governmental agencies including the CDC and PHAC, and is also coordinating with other sporting organizations regarding COVID-19. In addition, every MLS club is in continuous dialogue with local and regional health authorities.
"We will continue to monitor the situation and will provide any updates at the appropriate time."
The Sounders had announced earlier on Wednesday that their upcoming match against FC Dallas has been postponed after Washington governor Jay Inslee banned large gatherings.
Inslee stated that the ban runs through March, but the governor said it is “likely” that the precaution will be extended beyond that point.
As a result, the Sounders' March 21 match against FC Dallas has been postponed, while the club' USL team, the Tacoma Defiance, have also seen a match delayed.
"As the developments surrounding COVID-19 in our region evolve, Seattle Sounders FC has been working in real time with regional health authorities and government officials to do our part in combating this public health crisis," the Sounders said in a statement. "Our organization must remain flexible in these efforts, and at this time, that includes heeding Governor Inslee’s call to postpone our home match on March 21 versus FC Dallas at CenturyLink Field.
"Throughout this process, Sounders FC has stated that nothing is more important than public safety and the wellbeing of our fans. With that in mind, we respect the difficult decision that has been made today, and our club will continue following the guidelines set forth by our public health authorities and government agencies.
"We will maintain our consistent dialogue with elected leadership, public health officials and Major League Soccer, and as more information becomes available, the club will continue to provide public updates. This includes details about rescheduling the FC Dallas match for a later date."
The Earthquakes, meanwhile, made their announcement after the County of Santa Clara Public Health Department’s mandate barring gatherings of 1,000 or more people through the end of March.
“We’re very supportive of the mandate by the County’s Public Health Department,” said Earthquakes Chief Operating Officer Jared Shawlee. “We’d like to thank all of our community partners, including the City of San Jose and the County of Santa Clara, for their assistance and we would also like to thank our fans, players and staff for their patience and understanding throughout this unprecedented time. We will continue to work with local agencies and league officials and provide updates as available.”