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ECB mulling Covid-19 testing checkpoints, isolation units at grounds

by Wisden Staff 3 minute read

In preparation for a potential resumption of the cricket season, the England and Wales Cricket Board (ECB) is considering installing coronavirus testing checkpoints and isolation units at stadiums in the future, according to a report on Guardian.

As things stand, all cricket in England is suspended until May 28, as per the ECB’s directive. And while there is no saying when there will be a return to normalcy, the ECB is preparing for the eventuality that sport gets the green light from the UK government once the peak of the virus subsides, even if it allows for only a part of the English cricket season to take place, behind closed doors.

“We’re mapping out what international matches would look like behind closed doors,” Steve Elworthy, the ECB’s director of events, said. “The advice around mass gatherings [before the lockdown] was 500 people or fewer. That was guided by the potential impact on critical services like paramedics and doctors.

“You would likely have to work within that number, which includes teams, match officials, support staff, broadcasters and media, commercial partners, safety and security teams, third-party suppliers, replay screen operators, [the teams that control] the LED boards, ground staff, catering and more.

“Then you have to think about medical provisions, creating a safe and sterile environment around that venue, so that everyone who comes in is clear. So it’s how you test them at the gate, the isolation units that you have to put in. These are all the considerations we are thinking about.”

Elworthy admitted that whether or not any of this happens is anybody’s guess at the moment. However, he assured that the board will not proceed with the fixtures unless it ties in with the national sentiment at the time of a crisis.

“One thing you have to consider is the national mood,” he said. “You might be able to deliver a match, but would it be the right thing? Operationally, we believe we can deliver anything, but we have to have an eye on that. You don’t just operate in a bubble, you need peripheral vision.

“[And] making sure everyone is in a safe environment, is front and centre of the discussions. We have had good conversations with the new chief exec of the Professional Cricketers’ Association, Tony Irish, as well as county directors of cricket. Player and official safety and comfort is paramount.”

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