Toronto FC says it will begin voluntary individual player workouts outdoors at its north Toronto training facility starting Monday.
That mirrors the Toronto Raptors, who are opening up the OVO Athletic Centre for similar workouts as of Monday.
The news comes in the wake of Friday’s announcement by the Ontario government easing restrictions on pro sports teams. Players are allowed limited access to their training facilities providing they follow their league’s “established health and safety protocols” in response to COVID-19.
MLS and NBA have established strict guidelines for these workouts.
While the NBA now allows four players at a time in practice facilities, the Raptors will only have one player at a time in the building. Players will have to wear masks at all times except when on court. Staff members will wear gloves and masks at all times when in the building.
As for MLS, the field can be divided into a maximum of four quadrants per field. Only one player per quadrant is allowed, with no equipment sharing or playing (passing, shooting) between players.
TFC players and staff will have to arrive and leave at staggered times, with designated parking spaces to maintain maximum distance between vehicles.
Players will have to wear personal protective equipment from the parking lot to the training field and back. Staff will also have to wear “appropriate personal protective equipment” during training while maintaining a minimum distance of 10 feet (3.1 metres) from players at all times.
Head coach Greg Vanney says he and his coaching staff won’t be directly involved in the workouts, whose details will likely be texted to players the night before. Trainers will oversee the sessions and ensure the rules are followed.
The individual player workout protocol does not allow access to all club facilities, with locker-rooms and certain other areas still off-limits. Team gyms and training rooms may still only be accessed by players receiving post-operative and rehabilitation treatment, as directed by the club’s chief medical officer.
The MLS guidelines call for restricting access to essential staff only, as well as sanitization and disinfection plans (including balls, cones, goals).
“By utilizing the training ground for individual workouts, TFC will be able to provide a controlled environment that ensures adherence to safety protocols and social distancing measures for players and staff,” the club said in a statement Sunday.
The NBA suspended its season on March 11 after Utah Jazz all-star centre Rudy Gobert tested positive for the novel coronavirus. It ordered teams to close their facilities eight days later.
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MLS suspended play on March 12 and put a halt to team training sessions.
Lisa MacLeod, Ontario’s Minister of Heritage, Sport, Tourism and Culture Industries, sad Friday she is working with Major League Baseball’s Blue Jays, the NHL’s Maple Leafs and Senators and the CFL’s Argonauts, Tiger-Cats and Redblacks as well as others “on what a safe return would look like for them.”
The NHL has yet to allow training to resume.
The NHL has said that it is working towards having players returning to small group activities at club training facilities. In the meantime, a ban on NHL players using training facilities other than rehab remains in place.