Professional sports teams in Ontario are one step closer to returning to action.

The Ontario provincial government announced Friday it is enacting an emergency order that will allow athletes from professional sports teams in the province to start training at their club facilities, effective immediately. 

The order covers NHL, NBA, MLB, MLS and CFL clubs that play in the province, but it is up to each league to decide how to proceed. Amateur athletes and those who play in lower-tiered professional leagues in Ontario have not received the same level of clearance. 

Athletes can return to their team’s training facilities, provided they are permitted by their league and adhere to strict health protocols, which means they must abide by physical distancing rules and stay in small groups. Teams are not permitted to run full practices or workouts with their entire roster at this time. 

While the order is province-wide, the ruling is also subject to municipal guidelines – which could differ from one city to another.

"I am pleased to announce that beginning today in Ontario, professional sport training facilities will be permitted to reopen, provided their respective sports leagues have established health and safety protocols in response to COVID-19,” said Lisa MacLeod, Minister of Heritage, Sport, Tourism and Culture Industries, in a statement.

“…We are pleased to see professional sports teams take a leading role in producing new rigorous protocols to keep their athletes safe, while allowing them to train in a voluntary and individualized manner. We look forward to seeing our athletes return to play in the not-too-distant future."