MANCHESTER, England (AP) — Premier League players will not need to wear face masks arriving at stadiums, in dressing rooms or on the substitutes’ bench when the competition’s 100-day coronavirus shutdown ends next week.
Clubs agreed Thursday on matchday protocols that include splitting stadiums into red, amber and green zones to reduce the risk of spreading the virus. Games will be played without fans so access to stadiums will be limited to around 300 people who will have their temperatures checked on arrival.
The season is scheduled to resume on Wednesday with Aston Villa hosting Sheffield United and Arsenal playing at Manchester City.
Only 110 people will be allowed in the red zone around the field of play, and will be required to have returned a negative COVID-19 test in the previous five days as part of a medical passport that will see a bar code scanned before they can enter. They include players, coaches, medical staff, match officials, pitch technicians and Hawk-eye personnel for goal-line and video replay technology.
A familiar sight since the Bundesliga resumed last month was substitutes and coaching staff wearing masks — but that rule has been lifted this week and the Premier League will adopt the same relaxed approach.
But players will be asked where possible to maintain social distancing — staying 2 meters (6 feet) apart — in dressing rooms, entering the field, during warm-ups and in goal celebrations.
Teams are being encouraged to travel across England on the day of the game — ideally by plane — rather than staying in hotels. However, hotels can be used by squads even though they remain closed to the wider public in England beyond key workers.
In some cases, teams will arrive at stadiums on two buses to maintain social distancing. And the two teams will not emerge from the same tunnel at the same time to enter the field for the match as usual.
The players will be keeping a distance from the media. The amber zone at stadiums will include media and club executives, who won’t require virus testing, while the green zone is the outer concourse.
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