Premier League increases testing as Covid ravages schedule
Premier League players and staff must take a lateral flow test every time they enter their club’s training ground as part of strict new measures to curb the threat of the coronavirus.
The protocols were agreed after Manchester United’s Premier League match at Brentford on Tuesday and Tottenham’s trip to Brighton last Sunday were postponed due to Covid-19 outbreaks.
United, Tottenham, Brighton, Leicester, Norwich and Aston Villa have all been hit by the virus over the last week as the new Omicron strain threatens to cause havoc in England’s top-flight.
Twice-weekly PCR testing is also reported to have been introduced after a clubs’ shareholders’ meeting on Tuesday.
The increased testing will sit alongside the other recently introduced emergency measures, including face coverings, limiting time in the treatment room and observing social distancing.
The Omicron variant has become the dominant strain of the coronavirus in Britain and the Premier League has not been immune to it.
Premier League officials announced on Monday there had been 42 positive Covid cases among Premier League players and staff last week — the most recorded by the top-flight in any seven-day period since testing began during the 2019-20 season.
The most positive tests returned in a week this season was 16 from August 16-22.
The league’s clubs discussed the Government’s Covid Plan B measures at their meeting on Tuesday, which are set to come into force in England on Wednesday.
The measures require spectators to provide proof of full vaccination or a recent negative lateral flow test in order to enter venues holding more than 10,000 people.
Sports Minister Nigel Huddleston said on Tuesday the measures were “proportionate” to the situation the country faced at this moment, but refused to rule out even stricter measures such as forcing clubs to reduce capacity at matches.
“What we are doing is focusing on the situation at the moment and that we’re carefully monitoring the situation,” he said.
“The Prime Minister said yesterday that we will have to deal with this Covid situation as the facts tell us, so I can’t rule anything out. But we need to deal with the situation as it is at the moment and we believe the measures brought in place now are proportionate.”