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England squad adhering to enhanced protocols aimed at minimising spread of Covid

By Duncan Bech, PA England Rugby Correspondent
England players are restricted to socialising outdoors only when in camp for the Guinness Six Nations as part of a number of enhanced protocols designed to minimise the risk of coronavirus transmission.

Several significant changes have been made with the aim of limiting the scope for the type of outbreak that ruined Fiji’s Autumn Nations Cup two months ago, thereby helping the tournament proceed as scheduled.

All meetings at England’s bases at St George’s Park and The Lensbury will take place in an open-sided marquee, substantially reducing the potential for transmission, and any smaller meetings including one-on-ones must also be held outside.

This rule extends to any down time, with an open-air games area that features a giant chess board and table-tennis set-up to provide entertainment. Even the coffee machine is to be situated outside.

Fire-pits and heaters are in place and all staff will be issued with additional cold-weather clothing such as thermal gloves, snoods, hats and blankets.

Indoor activity has been heavily curtailed. Dining rooms are for eating only, not socialising, and will be laid out with increased social distancing, while the indoor games space is restricted to individual use.

Face masks must be worn at all times except in bedrooms or when eating and all personnel must stay two metres apart, with this rule paused only for training.

An extra team bus will assist with social distancing when the squad is on the move and there are now two rounds of testing each week, at the start and later on in the week.

Players will be able to leave their bio-secure bubble during the fallow weeks, the first break after the Italy game lasting half a week and then for just under a week once Wales have been faced.

Players will be required to test at home as per their schedule with their household included as part of the bubble.

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