Local players were admitted today in the “Bubble”- a term referring to five hotels selected to exclusively accommodate players and officials taking part in the Kenya Open- joining the handful foreign pros who began streaming in yesterday.
All the 156 players and match officials participating in the Magical Kenya Open and The Savannah classic will have to contend with the stringent Covid 19 health protocols for the next 12 days as European Tour officials leave nothing to chance in the wake of the rising coronavirus infections in the country.
Prior to admission to the “Bubble” both the local and foreign players are required to present a Covid 19 negative certificate. Upon arrival, they are then subjected to a fresh test before being ushered into the premises. The tests will be repeated after every three days to ensure that all residents remain Covid 19 free during their duration of stay. Additionally, the players will be required to fill in a questionnaire daily in an effort to detect any coronavirus symptoms that may arise.
Interaction between the players while in the “bubble” has been minimized to a maximum of four persons. The interaction will be limited to “buddy groups” comprising a maximum of two players and two caddies to make it easy for contact tracing and isolation in the event of an outbreak.
The players and match officials will commute to the venue using designated shuttles whose carrying capacity has been capped to almost 30% to ensure social distancing is observed. And while on the course, special zones have been marked on the tee boxes to ensure that players and Caddies maintain the recommended interaction distances. Shaking hands and fist bumps on the course has also been banned.
The players have been barred from leaving the Bubble in between the two events. The European Tour is paying the players 1000 Euros for each tournament to help them defray costs associated with observing the strict guidelines.
Though the hotel and restaurant staff will not reside in the “inner Bubble” they will also be expected to observe the strict protocols among them daily checks plus the mandatory full Covid 19 test after every three days.
The organizers have set up fully functional facilities in the “Bubble” manned by medical personnel for effective monitoring of the players and officials.
Nobody outside the “Bubble” including journalists and members of Karen Country Club will be allowed to come into contact with the players and match officials. Spectators will not be allowed at the venue and will have to follow the proceedings on television.
The Magical Kenya Open was cancelled last year alongside more than 20 events on the European Tour calendar amid the coronavirus outbreak.