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Open's COVID protocols include players not signing autographs

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SANDWICH, England – Two weeks ago, players learned that the PGA Tour plans to stop onsite COVID-19 testing beginning at next month’s 3M Open as the United States continues to emerge from the pandemic.

But that progress is in dramatic contrast to the increased protocols players face at this week’s Open Championship.

In addition to PCR tests before being allowed on property at Royal St. George’s, players are required to stay within their own “exclusive use accommodation at all times (including dinner)” when not playing or practicing at Royal St. George’s and they must complete a daily health questionnaire before arriving each day.

Player guidelines for 149th Open Championship

Player guidelines for 149th Open Championship

Players have also been advised to avoid signing autographs and to remain within the “field of play … without swapping from hole to hole” during practice rounds.

The R&A is “encouraging” players not to arrive more than 90 minutes before their tee time and warns that time limits might be used for practice areas. Players who violate the code of conduct will be forced to withdraw from the championship.

Earlier this year, the Tour stopped testing players who are fully vaccinated for COVID-19 and also relaxed restrictions within the circuit’s bubble. Next month’s plan to end all testing dovetails with CDC guidelines.