PGB statement – new Covid-19 strategy for the elite game in England

Sep 13 • Europe, General News, International, National • 255 Views • No Comments on PGB statement – new Covid-19 strategy for the elite game in England

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THE PROFESSIONAL Game Board (PGB) has today announced a new Covid-19 strategy that will incentivise players and management from the elite game in England to be fully vaccinated.

From today (Monday 13 September), the policy will allow Gallagher Premiership Rugby, Allianz Premier 15s or Championship Rugby clubs to relax some elements of the current COVID-19 Minimum Operating Standards (MOS) once they reach a vaccination rate of 85% in both the player and staff groups.

Following a recommendation from the PGB’s COVID-19 Minimum Operating Standards Review Group, the PGB has approved the new approach and remains committed to the two core principles of protecting the health of all players and staff and reducing the risk of any disruptions to matches or training.

Therefore, once both the playing group and staff group reach a level where 85% or more are fully vaccinated, elements of the current COVID-19 Minimum Operating Standards (MOS) can be relaxed. For the avoidance of doubt, a fully vaccinated person is currently defined as two weeks post their last dose of the Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA) approved vaccine. It should also be noted that these changes apply to domestic competitions only and it is likely that other cross-border competition standards may vary. The EPCR testing and MOS requirements will be updated once agreed with EPCR.

Chris Booy, chair of the PBG said: “The health and safety of everyone involved in the elite game is our priority and we know it is vital we ensure the vast majority of players and management are fully vaccinated as soon as possible.

“It is still a personal choice as to whether you receive a vaccination, but we want to strongly encourage as many players and staff as possible to be vaccinated so that we can proactively contribute as much as possible to the safety of our wider communities and of our players, staff and supporters.

“Whilst we hope that there will be no need to reverse any of these proposed changes, the PGB will continue to review all MOS in line with Government advice.”

The PGB can confirm that from Monday 13 September once a club reaches a level of 85% vaccination status in both the overall playing and support staff groups the following relaxations may be applied subject to club risk assessment:

Training Environment

Social distancing for players and support staff can be removed both indoors and outdoors.
Masks will be recommended but no longer compulsory for players and support staff both indoors and outdoors.
Masks must still be worn by players in the medical room

Match Day Environment

Social distancing for players and support staff within the Red Zone is no longer required. This will apply to all areas of the Red Zone including the changing rooms and substitution benches.
Masks will be recommended but no longer compulsory for players and support staff both indoors and outdoors.
Medical staff will continue to wear appropriate PPE for the role that they are undertaking and masks must still be worn by players in the medical room.
Where there is a match that is played between a team that is less than 85% vaccinated and a team that is more than 85% vaccinated, only the team who are more than 85% vaccinated will be able to apply these new MOS. Any team that is less than 85% will still be required to follow the current MOS in full.

Testing

Given the relaxing of these other measures, the PGB believes it is important that the current testing processes remain in place whilst any impact of the above changes are being evaluated.
All clubs will still, therefore, be required to conduct a minimum of two lateral flow tests (LFTs) per week, however, the earliest time-point when a pre-match day test can be undertaken will move from match day minus two to match day minus one (no change at Championship and AP15s).
The testing requirement for all external visitors remains unchanged and any Red Zone match day staff will need to take a LFT on match day minus one or on match day itself, regardless of vaccination status.

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