While coronavirus cases are spiking, The Memorial Tournament still planning to allow fans

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Despite a massive spike in COVID-19 cases throughout the country in recent days and weeks — including a new all-time record — organizers for The Memorial Tournament are still planning to welcome fans, which will mark the first PGA Tour event since play resumed to do so.

The Memorial Tournament — Jack Nicklaus’ event at his Muirfield Village Golf Club in Dublin, Ohio — is set to take place starting on July 16, and will allow up to 8,000 fans per day with several precautions in place.

[ Coronavirus: How the sports world is responding to the pandemic ]

While cases of the coronavirus are on the rise, and several on the PGA Tour have also tested positive, HNS Sports Group executive director Dean Sullivan said Thursday that “nothing has really given us pause.”

“It reminds us we have to make sure we do it right,” Sullivan said, via ESPN. “A lot of people are very confident in the plan we have put together — the governor, state of Ohio, health officials. But it reminds us we have to follow the plan. Nothing has really given us pause. It's given us the reality that every day means we have to refine the plan.

“And it starts with us communicating to our patrons who will come here that we need their cooperation and willingness to accept protocols that will be in place. And we need to continue to deliver that message. We have confidence in the way we plan to execute our event and believe it will be a nice week people will enjoy. There may be the possibility of the virus being transmitted, but that is happening every day in normal life. It can happen wherever.”

There were more than 2.4 million confirmed cases of the coronavirus in the United States as of Thursday afternoon, according to The New York Times, and more than 122,000 deaths attributed to it. Ohio had nearly 47,000 confirmed cases on Thursday, too. 

The United States reported more than 36,800 new cases on Wednesday alone, a single-day record. 

Cameron Champ and Nick Watney have both tested positive, as well as Graeme McDowell’s caddie and Brooks Koepka’s caddie. PGA Tour commissioner Jay Monahan insisted Wednesday that the Tour is going to keep moving forward despite the tests, but that it is taking the virus seriously.

The Memorial Tournament is expected to be the first PGA Tour event that allows fans in next month despite a sharp rise in coronavirus cases around the country. (Keyur Khamar/PGA TOUR)
The Memorial Tournament is expected to be the first PGA Tour event that allows fans in next month despite a sharp rise in coronavirus cases around the country. (Keyur Khamar/PGA TOUR)

The Memorial Tournament’s safety measures

While the coronavirus is still raging throughout the country, Sullivan and other organizers will have plenty of safety measures in place at Muirfield Village, according to ESPN.

The tournament will not provide shuttles for spectators to get to the course, and will test everyone’s temperature and assess a health questionnaire upon arrival. They will have to wear masks upon entry, though they aren’t required once inside — instead they are asked to just “use common sense” in wearing them and staying away from large groups. 

Fans will be “expected” to wear a mask when visiting the concession stands. Grandstands will not be around the course, and the two hospitality tents will be run “very much like a restaurant” with just a certain number of people allowed inside at a time.

"Obviously we are asking [fans] to keep separated from people they don't know," Sullivan said, via ESPN. "To take advantage of all of the sanitization methods. Concessions will be 'down the line' and credit card only. And we've thought through every aspect of it … We have the luxury of space and we will ask them to distance on the golf course as they enjoy the round.”

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