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No strict bio-secure bubbles for India vs South Africa T20I series

Players and their families will not be required to serve out a mandatory quarantine upon arrival in India

Shashank Kishore
Shashank Kishore
KL Rahul will lead India in the absence of Rohit Sharma  •  AFP/Getty Images

KL Rahul will lead India in the absence of Rohit Sharma  •  AFP/Getty Images

In a change from what has been the norm in the last couple of years, the BCCI has decided to do away with stringent biobubbles for India's upcoming T20I series against South Africa starting June 9. ESPNcricinfo understands that players and their families will not be required to serve out a mandatory quarantine period upon arrival either.
The Indian team is expected to link up in New Delhi, the venue for the series opener, on or before Saturday. The South African team, led by Temba Bavuma, is expected to arrive in the city on June 2. Their touring contingent includes as many as ten players who featured in IPL 2022.
The change in regulations also means that player movement in and out of the hotels and stadia would not be restricted. However, everyone has been advised to remain cautious and avoid large gatherings, as far as possible. It is understood that Covid-19 tests will only be carried out if someone reports symptoms, as against the policy of regular testing earlier.
The BCCI's decision to open up multiple venues for the same series is encouraging. It's a practice they have slowly embraced over time, since last November, when they hosted New Zealand and Sri Lanka at multiple venues.
For a brief while in February, they reverted to hosting an entire leg in one city due to the omicron threat when West Indies toured. The ODI leg was played in Ahmedabad before Kolkata hosted the T20I leg. This time around, players will travel across five venues - New Delhi, Cuttack, Visakhapatnam, Rajkot and Bengaluru - across 12 days. There will also be no cap on crowd attendance at any of the five venues either.
The decks have also been cleared for all state associations to begin the sale of tickets, allowing 100% attendance, across all venues. Sunday's IPL final in Ahmedabad witnessed possibly the biggest crowd at a cricket match in India, with the official number pegged at 104,859.
India's declining number of active Covid-19 cases have led to the easing of restrictions. The country recorded 2745 active cases on May 31; the corresponding numbers for the same date in 2021 stood at a whopping 127,510 cases.
Most cricket boards around the world have moved on from stringent biobubble measures to managed environments, with minimal restrictions. For example, Bangladesh's recent home Test series against Sri Lanka was held without any bubble restrictions. The upcoming England vs New Zealand Test series, starting June 2 at Lord's, will also be hosted on similar lines.
However, New Zealand Cricket has asked its players to "avoid mass gatherings and events of high exposure", while making masks mandatory when indoors with people from outside the environment and unable to socially distance. They will also carry out immediate testing in case of symptoms and five days of isolation if there is a positive case. The ECB has specified no such restrictions on their part.

Shashank Kishore is a senior sub-editor at ESPNcricinfo