Fans will be allowed to see the US Open this year in-person without face masks or proof of vaccination status required. In a huge step toward normalcy, the famous tennis match will be held with spectators allowed to attend at full capacity. This marks a big change from last year when the US Open was held without fans in attendance.
Dr. Brian Hainline, a US Tennis Association (USTA) first vice president and member of its medical advisory group, spoke with a group of reporters in a conference call. He told them “The goal is not to prevent all cases of COVID. The goal, really, is to be certain that we don’t have an outbreak of COVID that’s going to be unusual or that we would regret. We’re still relying on the goodwill of people. The unvaccinated – although it’s not going to be enforced – they really should be wearing masks. I expect many vaccinated individuals are going to be wearing masks, as well.”
Dr. Hainline said the tournament’s protocols are based on guidelines from the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) and the New York City Department of Public Health. The protocols are similar to those for the 2020 Tokyo Olympics, which did not mandate that athletes be vaccinated in order to compete. Players competing in the US Open are permitted to go out into the city during the tournament and advised to “exercise caution, especially given the delta variant. Try to avoid large, crowded indoor settings. Socialize only among your team when indoors. Keep masks on indoors even with other fully vaccinated persons who are not in your support team,” according to literature distributed by the USTA.
While players aren’t required to be vaccinated in order to compete in the US Open, all will be tested for COVID-19 upon arrival in New York. Testing will be repeated every four days thereafter. A positive result means the player needs to withdraw from the tournament and isolate for 10 days.
In another display of free choice, spectators aren’t required to fill out health questionnaires or have their temperatures taken to enter the tournament facility. All tennis courts are classified as outdoor venues, even if their retractable roofs are closed due to rain. But all on-site restaurants are indoor facilities, and people over 12 years of age will need to show proof they’ve had at least one dose of a vaccine if they want to eat in one of them.
The US Open will be held from August 30 through September 12. By now, the Tokyo Olympics have fully wrapped up and data has been gathered about COVID-19 infections resulting from the huge global gathering. All signs indicate that the Olympics were not a super spreader event as feared, so hopefully, the US Open will be pulled off without a related surge in infections. If so, it signals a possible return to normalcy for American sports.