March 9 (UPI) -- The NBA, MLB, NHL and MLS are restricting access to team locker rooms and clubhouses to all non-essential personnel in response to the coronavirus outbreak, the leagues announced in a joint statement Monday night.
The North American sports leagues said they made the decision "after consultation with infectious disease and public health experts."
"Given the issues that can be associated with close contact in pre- and post-game 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 said. "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."
The changes, which the leagues labeled as temporary, will start Tuesday, although some NHL teams began closing their locker rooms to media members over the weekend.
The NBA, which told teams last week to prepare for the possibility of playing games without fans in attendance, said interviews with players will continue in areas other than the locker room, requesting a gap of six-to-eight feet between reporters and interviewees.
MLB officials, like the NBA, held a conference call with all 30 franchises Monday to discuss the new policies.
"We are regularly conveying the guidance from these experts to clubs, players, and staff regarding prevention, good hygiene practices and the latest recommendations related to travel," MLB said in its statement. "We are continuing to monitor developments and will adjust as necessary.
"While MLB recognizes the fluidity of this rapidly evolving situation, our current intention is to play spring training and regular-season games as scheduled."
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said in its update Monday that there are 423 cases in the U.S. and 19 deaths. The Johns Hopkins University of Medicine, which also tracks the disease, lists the U.S. case total at 709 and deaths at 22.