The ATP and WTA have announced precautionary health measures to be taken by players, ball kids and mascots throughout the spring season in light of the global coronavirus pandemic.
The bodies which represent professional men’s and women’s tennis released a joint statement on Saturday on the new measures which will come into effect in upcoming events.
“As the outbreak of COVID-19 continues to cause concern on a global scale, the ATP and WTA have jointly announced a series of precautionary health measures that will be implemented on-site at upcoming events including the BNP Paribas Open in Indian Wells, the Miami Open presented by Itau and WTA’s Volvo Car Open in Charleston,” a joint statement from the men’s and women’s tours said.
Under the new directives, players have been barred from holding hands with mascots during their on-court walk. Ball Kids will be provided with hand gloves and won’t handle players’ drinks or towels.
Players will be instructed not to distribute matchday memorabilia or accept pens, balls or anything from fans for autographs or pose for selfies.
“The health and safety of our players, fans, staff and tournament personnel is paramount and, as the outbreak of COVID-19 continues, these are common sense precautions for us to take,” the ATP and WTA said.
“We continue to monitor this closely on a daily basis, working with our players and tournaments, as well as public health authorities as the situation evolves globally.”
The measures will be implemented across all WTA events and ATP Tour and ATP Challenger Tour events through the 2020 spring season, with a further review to follow.
Indian Wells tournament advisers had already announced precautionary measures for the event, including gloves for ball kids, food workers and volunteers taking tickets.
More than 250 hand-sanitizing stations have been placed throughout the facility and common areas will be cleaned daily with an anti-viral application.
The tournament also announced Friday that it would offer refunds, or credit for the 2021 edition, to fans who purchased tickets but don’t want to attend.
As of Saturday, 150,000 people in 95 countries had been infected with the virus and 3,556 people had died.