Coronavirus will keep Mariners from playing in Seattle in March

(Reuters) - The Seattle Mariners will not play home games in March due to the state of Washington’s decision to ban large group events through the end of the month amid the coronavirus outbreak, the Major League Baseball team said on Wednesday.

The Mariners were scheduled to kick off the 2020 MLB season with a four-game series against the Texas Rangers from March 26-29 followed immediately by a three-game series against the Minnesota Twins.

Seattle then heads on the road for their next six games before returning home for a four-game series against the Boston Red Sox starting on April 9.

“While we hope to be back to playing baseball in Seattle as soon as possible, the health and safety of our community is the most important consideration,” the Mariners said.

Earlier on Wednesday, Washington Governor Jay Inslee banned gatherings and events of more than 250 people in three counties because of what he described as an “unprecedented public health situation.”

Inslee also said the ban could stretch beyond March and may be expanded in the days to come.

Reporting by Frank Pingue in Toronto; Editing by Howard Goller