NEW YORK (Reuters) - PGA Tour players living outside the U.S. must undergo a quarantine period before playing tournaments, which are due to restart next month amid the coronavirus pandemic, the Tour said on Wednesday.
The PGA Tour is planning a June 11-14 return to action at Charles Schwab Challenge in Fort Worth, Texas, rolling out a layered testing approach that includes pre-travel screening mandatory for competition.
Around 25 PGA Tour players currently reside outside the United States and with a 14-day quarantine applied to all people entering the U.S. from abroad, they are encouraged to arrive early.
“The foundation of this plan is our belief that we can conduct a PGA Tour event throughout the entire property, with everybody practising good social distancing,” Andy Levinson, Senior Vice President Tournament Administration, told reporters.
Players and caddies will be asked to report to a testing site on arrival at tournaments, where they will undergo three testing methods including a questionnaire, a thermal reading and a nasal swab test.
“People who are waiting on test results would be allowed to go on‑site to practice and play, so long as they are practising social distancing, and would not be using any of the facilities on‑site,” Levinson said.
Maintaining social distancing will be the responsibility of individuals.
“While we’ve gotten used to this, it’s easy to forget and sort of accidentally lapse and do something that is not recommended,” said Tyler Dennis, senior vice president and chief of operations.
“We’re going to try to create a culture where everyone is trying to help others out and conform with that.”
Players are expected to travel on charter flights between tournaments and Levinson expects an average weekly testing group of about 400 participants.
Leagues and professional sports organisations across North America are grappling with when and how they can safely return to competition, with sports-starved fans craving live events after most were suspended two months ago.
NASCAR is expected to resume its season with a fanless race on Sunday, while Major League Baseball owners are expected to present a plan to players this week on opening the season.
The PGA Tour’s chief tournaments and competitions officer, Andy Pazder, said there is no specific target date to bring back fans.
“We obviously hope that there will be a point in time this summer where we are able to welcome back our fans on‑site,” he said. “We’re only going to return to golf when we can do it in a safe and responsible manner.”
Reporting by Amy Tennery, editing by Ed Osmond