The Hundred: Players and staff told to avoid shops and pubs to mitigate Covid-19 risks
They will not be confined to hotels, but have been asked to avoid areas where the risk of infection is high
Players and staff involved in the inaugural season of the Hundred have been encouraged to avoid shops, pubs and restaurants during the competition as the ECB hope to mitigate the risk of Covid-19 sweeping through entire teams.
The UK is due to relax its remaining Covid restrictions on July 19, two days before the start of the Hundred, but Public Health England provisions surrounding cases - which require the close contacts of a person who tested positive to self-isolate for 10 days - will continue until August 16, two days before the end of the tournament's group stage.
Those demands have already had a significant impact on English cricket, with England's entire white-ball squad and support staff required to self-isolate following a number of positive tests after the third ODI against Sri Lanka in Bristol, Kent fielding a second-string team in County Championship and Vitality Blast fixtures, and Derbyshire forced to cancel their last two Blast group games due to a lack of available players.
Tom Harrison, the ECB's chief executive, said this week that English cricket needs to "learn to live" with Covid rather than eliminate the risk of infection entirely, as had been the case during the 2020 summer when international squads were forced to live in biosecure environments formed through using grounds with on-site hotels.
"I hope we're in a position where we can cope through the protocols that are designed to cope with small outbreaks or being able to mitigate the impact on entire squads," Harrison said. "There are risks - I can't say they don't exist because they do… [but] we have to learn to cope with Covid. Mitigation is the word as opposed to prevention."
As a result, players and support staff involved in the Hundred have been told that they will not have to spend every night of the month-long competition in team hotels, but have instead been asked to avoid areas where the risk of infection is particularly high, such as shops, restaurants and pubs, and to minimise social interaction with anyone not involved in the competition.
A Covid compliance officer has also been appointed for each team in a bid to lessen the risk of whole squads being forced to self-isolate, which would leave the viability of Hundred fixtures in doubt.
Teams are due to meet up at the start of next week. The competition's opening matches are between Oval Invincibles and Manchester Originals at The Oval, with the women's fixture on July 21 before the men's on July 22.
Matt Roller is an assistant editor at ESPNcricinfo. @mroller98