The iconic scene of Phil Mickelson being mobbed by fans as he closed in on his sixth major victory at the PGA Championship in Kiawah Island, South Carolina had this space predicting the end to the authoritarian COVID-19 policies and edicts.
We forgot that one of the remaining tournaments on the schedule was being contested in the United Kingdom which has become a quasi-police state since the COVID virus rolled in from Communist China last year.
So it should come as no surprise to see the R&A dictating uber-strict protocols for the upcoming Open Championship at Royal St George’s which ignores a players’ vaccination status, kicks players’ families to the curb, and bans any kind of socializing or entertainment.
One player who texted us called it a “clown show,” while a caddie referred to it as “dystopian.”
Here are the list of COVID-19 protocols being enforced by the U.K. government via the R&A.
- Players must have negative PCR test 72 hours prior to arriving in the U.K., regardless of vaccination status.
- Players can also be DQ’d if contact tracing determines they’ve been in close contact with a person who tests positive. For example, if someone on a players’ plane tests positive on the way to the Open and is anywhere close to the player, or team member, they are immediately disqualified.
- Players will also be required to complete a second PCR test upon arrival at Royal St. George’s (unless flying on the charter from the Scottish Open as those players will be tested upon leaving Scotland).
- Players must assign three members to what’s being called a “buddy team” (i.e. coach, caddie, doctor).
- Only four members will be permitted on each “buddy team” and no one else.
- Players may accredit one (1) family member only. But it will be in place of a coach or support member. (So if a player brings his wife, he must exclude a staff member.)
- Family members would be forced into a mandatory quarantine – isolated in a foreign country no less, for a minimum of five days, even with a negative result. (This is being called a forced function to ban families.)
- Players and staff are prohibited from going anywhere for the duration of tournament week, including restaurants, grocery stores and bars.
- Players and staff may only stay in government-approved hotels or private residences.
- Buddy groups are banned from socializing with other buddy groups, in any setting.
- At Royal St. George’s, a “bubble” system will be in place where social distancing of six feet will apply for everyone. (For instance, a swing coach cannot get any closer than six feet to a player on the range – no standing close to one another while viewing video.)
- Masks must be worn at all times indoors, regardless of vaccination status.