BOSTON (CBS) – Massachusetts Gov. Charlie Baker and Boston Mayor Marty Walsh joined Red Sox president Sam Kennedy Thursday to celebrate the state’s arrival in Phase 3 of its reopening plan, which will allow baseball to return to Fenway Park.
Baker announced earlier in the day that the state will begin Phase 3 on Monday. Fans will not be allowed at games, but the governor still said it is an exciting step.
“We’re thrilled and excited and honored to welcome the Boston Red Sox back to the field,” said Baker.
Red Sox players and staff underwent coronavirus testing earlier in the week, though results have not yet been released. The team is set to open its “summer camp” on Friday before beginning the regular season with an anticipated start of July 23 or 24.
“In Boston, nothing, not even a global pandemic can take away who we are and what we stand for,” Walsh said. “There is no doubt that this will be a historic season. We’re certainly not back to normal, but welcoming the Red Sox back to Fenway Park and being able to watch a live sport again is a big win for Boston.”
A portion of the team’s summer camp will be held at Boston College.
Kennedy was asked what would happen if a group of players tests positive for COVID-19 during the season. He deferred to the 120-page document Major League Baseball provided that establishes safety protocols.
“There are all sorts of protocols including masks, including social distancing, including washing our hands general hygiene – that will take place over the course of the season,” said Kennedy. “It doesn’t come without risk, but we are confident that we’ll be able to pull it off and deliver a very unique baseball season for our fans.”
Baker said he did not want to speculate on when it would be possible for fans to return to the ballpark.
“The draconian measures that in many cases we’ve had to put in place to successfully stop the spread of this disease are some of the hardest decisions we’ve had to make since we took office,” said Baker. “I don’t have to tell anybody here, or anyone watching at home, what sports generally – and baseball in particular – means to the people of this city in this state. The Red Sox have always been part of our community. The sport, the ballpark, the team are part of what makes Boston and Massachusetts special.”
Kennedy said he hopes the return of baseball will help provide a “small escape at a time when it is most needed.”
“We hope that we can establish a sense of normalcy for our fans, and for our entire community,” Kennedy said.