Premier League players to return to contact training this week
Players have to isolate if they have spent 15 minutes with someone who has tested positive
Premier League clubs have voted to return to contact training. Photo: Mark Kerton/PA Wire
Premier League players are to return to contact training this week, but will not be made to self-isolate unless they have spent more than 15 minutes in direct company with someone who has tested positive for Covid-19.
Clubs voted unanimously to pass “stage two” medical protocols on Wednesday, seen as a crucial step in the attempt to resume the 2019-20 top-flight season. The league also announced four more individuals from three clubs had tested positive for Covid-19.
Stage two protocols deal with contact training, including tackling and aerial duels, actions which require breaching physical distancing guidelines. Players who test positive for coronavirus are expected to isolate for seven days, but there had been uncertainty as to the policy regarding players who might come into close contact with those with the disease.
The new rules appear to be following the principles of the government’s test and trace programme, announced on Wednesday, which would require someone to isolate for 14 days if they came within two metres of someone with the virus for 15 minutes or more.
The stage two protocols are built to minimise such encounters, with the aim of keeping continuous contact between groups as short as possible and under the 15-minute limit. Any close contact will be measured using GPS units that track players’ movements.
If the protocols are successfully observed, no one who did not test positive for Covid-19 would be expected to isolate. It is understood that only if there were a breach – and the 15-minute limit exceeded – that a club’s medical team would seek to contact public health officials to discuss possible quarantine.
The shareholders’ meeting on Wednesday lasted just 45 minutes and its brevity, alongside the unanimous approval of the protocols, seems to confirm a sense that any opposition to Project Restart is falling away. Teams will be able to start contact training from Thursday.
Later in the day the results of a third round of mass testing were announced. From 1,008 tests taken among players and staff of the league’s 20 clubs, four individuals from three clubs were found to have tested positive. This brings the total number of positive results since testing began to 12.
The Premier League said in a statement: “Shareholders today voted unanimously to resume contact training, marking another step towards restarting the Premier League season, when safe to do so.
“Strict medical protocols are in place to ensure the training ground is the safest environment possible and players and staff will continue to be tested for Covid-19 twice a week.
“Stage two of the return to training protocol has been agreed following consultation with clubs, players, managers, the PFA, LMA and the government. Discussions are ongoing as work continues towards resuming the season, when conditions allow.” – Guardian