With the current coronavirus outbreak in England, Premier League players and match officials have been ordered to stop shaking hands from this weekend until further notice. The league added that fixtures lists and kick-off times still remain unchanged.
According to the Premier League, teams and officials will still take part in the pre-match walk-outs but have been banned the tradition of shaking hands. Newcastle United and Brighton have earlier banned direct physical contact, such as handshakes, hugging, hi-fives.
A statement from the Premier League said: “The Premier League fair-play handshake will not take place between players and match officials from this weekend until further notice based on medical advice.
“Coronavirus is a spread via droplets from nose and mouth and can be transmitted onto the hands and passed on via handshake.
“Club and Match Officials will still perform the rest of the traditional walk-out protocol ahead of each fixture.
“On entering the field of play, the two teams will continue to line up, accompanied by the Premier League music, then players from the home team will walk past their opposition without shaking their hands.”
The Premier League has already written to its 20 clubs, advising on the latest contingency plans to deal with the spread of coronavirus. League officials are discussing daily with the government’s public health experts to provide up-to-the-minute advice on how best to counteract the spread of the virus.
However, clubs have been asked to consider the implications if the government were to ban large gatherings, leading to matches being played behind closed doors. The league also advises officials to raise hygiene levels at their stadiums and training grounds to protect fans as well as players and staff. They are also advised to cut down on non-essential visitors and keep face-to-face meetings to a minimum.
Like most clubs, Brighton has implemented a series of restrictions. Last night the club advised players and staff to postpone all player appearances across both men’s and women’s squads. Restrict players posing for selfies and signing autographs pre-match and post-match at the stadium.
Restrict “direct physical contact, such as handshakes, hugging, hi-fives”. Avoid non-essential visitors or meetings at the stadium and training ground, encouraging the use of Skype.
Newcastle has also announced that they have banned their players from shaking hands with one another amid fear of coronavirus. The Magpies are known for their longtime training ground tradition whereby players and staff greet one another by shaking hands every morning.
Newcastle manager Steve Bruce revealed the new ban saying the club has put a stop to their morning ritual due to fears over the spread of the disease increase in the UK. While Arsenal and Tottenham have asked visitors at their training grounds to fill out a health form.
Speaking ahead of Saturday’s visit of Burnley, Bruce said: “There’s a ritual here that everybody shakes hands as soon as we see each other every morning we’ve stopped that on the advice of the doctor. Thankfully, we’ve got a superb doctor here and he will keep us informed of what we have to do. We’re like everybody else, we’re glued to the TV for where it’s going to go next and let’s hope it doesn’t get any worse in this country.”
Speaking on whether anything like it in the past has happened Bruce added: “No, not at all. Look, in confined areas like we’ve got here… There was a time over Christmas when if there’s a virus knocking around – which is not coronavirus – then you have to be careful so we’re a bit mindful of it, the fact that a bug can sweep through. We had four or five at Christmas and two of my staff, so you stay at home, basically. But it’s always something you’re looking at.”