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The end of the bubble: ATP Tour to relax regulations

Players will be able to visit restaurants, have a haircut and even stay in a different hotel from the week of May 17

Australian Open, Coronavirus AI / Reuters / Panoramic

Bubble life is over.

According to documents sent to players and seen by Tennis Majors, starting with the the tournaments in Geneva and Lyon, the week beginning May 17, players will be allowed much more freedom than they have been used to since the Tour resumed in August of last year after five months out because of the Coronavirus pandemic.

Using rapid Antigen tests, which yield faster results, every two days instead of the PCR tests every four days, the ATP Tour says it will be able to ease many of the restrictions that have been in place.

So having been largely allowed only to move between hotel and the tournament sites for the past nine months, players will now be allowed to enjoy many more things, including leaving the hotel to go to restaurants, go shopping, exercise and even stay in alternative hotels to the bubble accommodation.

Here’s what the players will now be allowed to do:

  • Leave designated areas at the tournament facilities
  • Eat at restaurants outside the tournament venue (recommended to eat outside)
  • Collect takeaway food from restaurants
  • Unlimited exercise outside
  • Share accommodation with non-credentialed individuals
  • Stay in alternative hotels
  • Use public transport
  • Attend a public pool or beach
  • Go to a hairdresser

There are one or two things players will still not be able to do, though:

  • Attend a concert, festival or other “large public gatherings”
  • Go to bars or nightclubs

Vaccinated players would not need to be tested

Players who can show they have been “fully vaccinated” – either by taking both doses of a two-dose programme or for those using the single-dose programme – will be eligible for exemption from the testing programme. A person is considered to be fully vaccinated if there has been 14 days or more since the completion of their vaccine shots.

The changes are designed to “improve conditions at tournaments while ensuring suitable provisions remain in place to maintain a safe environment for all players and Player Support Team (PST) members”.

The ATP also says there will be “amended procedures for close contacts” but also stresses that all the relaxations are “subject to local authorities’ approval”.

Petra Kvitova mask

WTA reviewing bubble provisions

At present, it seems like the WTA Tour will be sticking to their guidelines for their various tournaments leading up to Roland-Garros, but that could yet change.

“The WTA is currently holding conversations with our players and tournaments to review the COVID protocols and discuss if there should be any adjustments to the current protocols in place,” the WTA told Tennis Majors via email.

“Any changes will factor in a balance that allows us to keep the environment safe so we can continue operating our Tour across the globe without risking the health and safety of our players, staff, fans and local communities.”

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