Houston Astros implement new autograph rules in response to COVID-19 outbreak

Due to growing coronavirus concerns, the Houston Astros are implementing new guidelines regarding autographs and signatures during spring training. 

Personal contact, such as handshakes, as well as the exchanging of items, will be prohibited for the time being. Fans will be able to obtain pre-signed items before and during the game. 

The Astros released the following statement: 

"Based on recommendations issued by the MLB, the CDC, and the World Health Organization, the Astros are making some changes to the way the team approaches autographs at spring training.

Out of an abundance of caution, all Astros personnel, including players and coaches, have been advised to avoid shaking hands and/or exchanging items (ie. pens, balls, jerseys, etc.). For the time being, Astros players will pre-sign items and will distribute them to fans. Items will be distributed periodically to fans before and during the game.

As a result, the Astros have also adapted the way spring training Signature Sundays are conducted. For all remaining spring training Signature Sunday events, fans who obtain vouchers will no longer be able to bring personal items for players to autograph. Instead, Astros players will sign a team provided item (ie. autograph card, program, etc.). Fan photos or items other than the team provided item will not be accommodated. 

The Astros care about the safety of our fans. We encourage our fans to also follow the guidelines provided by public health authorities regarding extra care and attention."

MORE: Live updating map of novel coronavirus cases in the U.S. & around the world

While COVID-19 is a new respiratory virus, daily precautions recommended to prevent respiratory illnesses are the same:

•  Wash hands frequently with soap and water for at least 20 seconds. Use hand sanitizer when you can't wash your hands.

•  Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth.

•  Cover your coughs and sneezes with a tissue and throw the tissue away. If you don’t have a tissue, use the elbow of your sleeve. Don’t use your hands to cover coughs and sneezes.

•  Avoid close contact with people who are sick.

•  Stay home when you are sick and keep children home when they are sick.

•  Clean and disinfect frequently touched objects and surfaces.

•  Get a flu shot. (Although the flu shot does not protect against COVID-19, it is flu season.)