Although Gov. Lou Leon Guerrero’s recently signed Executive Order No. 2021-07 extends the public health emergency to May. 1, Department of Public Health and Social Services Guidance Memo No. 2021-08 allows several noncontact sports to resume competition, albeit with several restrictions.
Restrictions include wearing masks, physical distancing, spectator caps, health and hygiene and cleaning and disinfecting equipment and facilities.
But before commencing activities and events, organizations must submit, in writing, a COVID-19 mitigation plan to DPHSS via email at PCOR3plans@dphss.guam.gov.
Although Guam Masters Baseball League President Dave Quitugua and Guam Major League Commissioner Roque Alcantara are working to solidify start dates and return-to-play COVID-19 mitigation plans, resuming play isn’t as simple as flipping a switch or submitting paperwork. For these organizations to not only survive, but thrive, stadium seats need to be occupied and hot dogs, drinks and pickled treats must be sold. Sales from admission tickets and concessions are the lifeblood of baseball and, without them, operation costs are not easily offset.
On March 31, DPHSS released Guidance Memo No. 2021-10, limiting the number of spectators for a noncontact sport played outdoors to no more than 25. On April 7, in an addendum to the previous guidance memo, Public Health increased the number to 50.
“Forget that,” Quitugua said. “That’s not going to work.”
“What will have to happen is we probably have to increase the entrance fees for the teams in order to meet the expenses, because we depend on fan fare and spectators and gate concessions to help pay for the expenses,” he added. “Now, we still have to have concessions but how are we going to operate with this COVID-type of condition?”
As it appears the worst of the pandemic is in the record books, with very few daily reported new coronavirus cases, recent rains serve as a reminder that the island is more than halfway through dry season and is on the home stretch for wetter days ahead. The combination of paperwork needing to be submitted and imminent typhoon season create a perfect snafu of a storm for restarting baseball.
“We may only have a short season and we’ll just go from there,” Quitugua said. “We’ll run it through the rainy season until we’re done. If we have to postpone or reschedule games, we’ll do that.”
Alcantara, who also serves as the director of the Guam Department of Parks and Recreation, told The Guam Daily Post that GML relaunching the professional ranks is underway. He said that GML had its first stakeholder meeting Wednesday.
“I have seven confirmed teams,” he said.
He also said that he is hopeful to add three more teams, adding that conditioning among the players is an issue, indicating that player inactivity has led to weight gain.
“It looks like they need more conditioning before they start,” Alcantara said. … “Their containers became extra stuffed.”
He said that as long as the teams are ready, the stadium is ready.
Justin Bennett, the public information officer for the Guam Amateur Baseball Association, told the Post that the association is eyeing a June 2021 start date.