Major sports leagues restrict locker room access amid coronavirus threat

Andrew D. Bernstein / National Basketball Association / Getty

Major League Baseball (MLB), Major League Soccer (MLS), the National Basketball Association (NBA), and the National Hockey League (NHL) released a joint statement Monday confirming restricted locker room access as a preventative measure against the coronavirus.

"After consultation with infectious disease and public health experts, and given the issues that can be associated with close contact in pre and postgame settings, all team locker rooms and clubhouses will be open only to players and essential employees of teams and team facilities until further notice," the statement read.

"Media access will be maintained in designated locations outside of the locker room and clubhouse setting. These temporary changes will be effective beginning with tomorrow's games and practices.

"We will continue to closely monitor this situation and take any further steps necessary to maintain a safe and welcoming environment."

Each major sports league is currently in the midst of its regular season, with the exception of MLB. The organization remains committed to playing out the remainder of its spring training games and intends to begin the regular season on its scheduled date of March 26, ESPN's Jeff Passan reports. However, that stance is dependent on how the epidemic develops.

Further plans to address the coronavirus are understood to be the subject of discussion in an NBA conference call on Wednesday. A few NHL teams were already limiting media access to help combat the spread of infection, and MLS set up a task force last week to keep up to date with news on the virus and inform clubs of appropriate measures to reduce its risk.

The United States has confirmed more than 650 cases of the coronavirus, including 26 deaths, as reported by NBC. The Canadian government has confirmed 72 cases, while the National Post published news of the country's first death due to the outbreak on Monday.

Across the world, there are more than 108,000 confirmed cases of the coronavirus and 3,800 deaths, according to CNN. Italy is the worst affected country in Europe, resulting in travel restrictions for its 60-million population and postponement of all of its sporting events.

Major sports leagues restrict locker room access amid coronavirus threat
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