A detailed plan has been laid out for the safe conduct of the league in Germany.
The German Bundesliga will be making a return to action on May 16. It will become the first major league in Europe to do so after the football competitions were suspended across the continent due to the coronavirus pandemic. However, safety concerns are at the top of the priority list, with the association adopting a series of measures to keep the spreading of the virus in check.
The league was given the green light by the German government after monitoring all the risks involved and having been assured of the safety of players and staff associated with the clubs. The guidelines cover a range of areas to ensure the safe conduction and resumption of not only the Bundesliga but also the Bundesliga 2, the 3. Liga men’s season (another 11 matchdays) and the FLYERALARM Women’s Bundesliga (another 6 matchdays) with a regular number of matches. The aim of the proposal is also to reach the conclusion of domestic cup competitions along with the Bundesliga.
The guidelines show an acceptance of individuals getting re-infected by the coronavirus and it lays out the protocol that needs to be followed in such a case. The aim is to finish the season with minimal pressure on medical resources. The focus is also on targeted and appropriate testing of all parties involved for potential COVID-19 infections.
It is clearly mentioned in the guidelines that, “The idea is to ensure a medically justifiable risk based on the significance of football (in societal, sociopolitical and economic terms).” It also says that prior to every game, the matchday officials will be provided with a list of infected (if any) individuals and a central data line was collected with the cooperation of the clubs for this purpose.
Moreover, before any match or training, at least two tests of every non-infected individual are to take place. The circular has also advised the clubs to ensure staggered presence of players and staff during or after training. The social distancing measures are to be strictly followed at all times.
The guidelines cover almost all areas related to a regular matchday and we will be having a brief overlook on them. The areas covered are, guidelines for organizational precautions in the stadium, for TV production, for resuming team training, for hotel accommodation, for home personal hygiene in everyday life and for home personal hygiene in quarantine.
Guidelines for organizational precautions in stadium
The stadium premises have been divided into three zones: the interior, the stands and the stadium exterior. A maximum of 300 people are permitted to be on the entire stadium premises at once and each zone must not exceed the maximum cap of 100 individuals in it. The home team will be responsible for the proper implementation of these rules.
Teams will arrive in multiple buses and players must be wearing masks on arrival. The home team players are advised to travel individually to the stadium in their personal vehicle. There will be no mascots or child escorts allowed. Handshakes and group photos have also been disallowed.
Guidelines for TV production
All the staff involved in matchday coverage shall be monitored with temperature checks and must follow strict hygiene measures. The production team must also answer a questionnaire prior to entering the stadium premises. Moreover, the Bundesliga post-match press conferences will be held virtually.
The staff are also to carry sanitizers and wear face masks at all times. The press room will be closed and no catering will be provided to minimize physical interaction. Several other measures like installation of mobile sinks, disinfectants and separate working stations are also being taken. Social distancing norms are to be strictly followed.
Guidelines for resuming team training
Training will take place without spectators and a time limit will be set for time spent in the changing room before and after the session. No team lunches, only takeaways and use of personal drinking bottles advised. Players and staff must wear face masks at all times.
The gym equipment must be disinfected after use and the gym must be opened in a staggered manner for a small group of players at a time. Players will be required to wash their own training equipment and health workers must be clad in protective gear to assist any injured or infected individuals.
Guidelines for hotel accommodations
Hotels shall be booked exclusively for the team or exclusive floor/areas to prevent contact with other hotel guests. Spa areas, fitness rooms and other facilities in the hotel will be cordoned off for the players and club staff. Only staff directly responsible with the handling of the matchday must travel to the hotel.
Hotel staff are to wear masks when tending to club personnel. The food shall be left outside the player’s room and they shall collect it themselves. No room cleaning is allowed until after the players have emptied it and it is also advised to not touch elevator buttons by hands, rather use the elbow or knee.
Guidelines for home personal hygiene in everyday life
Very basic distancing measures are to be followed such as not having visitors, not using public transport, staying indoors, maintaining a distance of 2m from others, maintaining distance from family members and avoiding sharing of common spaces like kitchen frequently.
Players must thoroughly wash their hands and keep the hygiene standards to optimum levels in their households.
Guidelines for home personal hygiene in quarantine
If a player with symptoms requires testing, this should occur at home or in their car using the “drive-through” method. Testing of contacted persons shall also be organized and concerned people shall be put in quarantine. A player must immediately contact the club doctor if there are symptoms of the infection.
Also, the club is directed to refrain from automatic reporting of a positive case to the press since the focus is on confirming illness and clearly documenting likely means of transmission.
With these whole host of precautions and safety measures in place, it will be vital on how these guidelines are carried out. If successfully implemented, it could prove to be a go-to step taken by other leagues as well, who aim to resume their current campaigns.