ATLANTA - Major League Soccer lifted its league-wide team training moratorium implemented on March amid coronavirus concerns.
Teams may now submit their own plans before returning to mandatory full team training, the next step towards returning to match play. Those plans must be reviewed and approved by each team's medical staff and local infectious disease expert prior to submission to MLS for review.
Part of those plans include players completing physical exams, two Polymerase Chain Reaction (PCR) tests 24 hours apart, 72 hours prior to the start of training, and one baseline antibody (serology) test. Players will be cleared to train by their team's medical staff only after they have successfully completed their interim physical, completed two negative PCR tests and the serology test.
If a player or staff member tests positive, he or she will be isolated and tested again at least 24 hours later to ensure it wasn't a false positive. His or her close contacts will be immediately tested, and the team's COVID-19 task force and local authorities will perform contact tracing. A staff member or player who tests positive may return to training only when cleared by the club's Chief Medical Officer in consultation with the league medical team.
Atlanta United defender George Campbell #32 passes the ball during voluntary small group training at Children's Healthcare of Atlanta Training Ground in Marietta, Ga., on Thursday June 4, 2020. Major League Soccer announced that starting on Friday, M
Anyone in a high-risk category for severe illness related to COVID-19 will not be permitted to participate in team training unless cleared by the Chief Medical Officer.
After initial testing, players, coaches and some staff members must complete PCR tests every other day and only those with negative results will be allowed to attend training. The serology testing will be every three months.
Teams will now be able to use their full facilities, and entry points should remain open to avoid contact with doorknobs or exit bars. No more than five people can be in training room, gyms and fitness areas at the same time, and they must all maintain proper social distancing.
Equipment and laundry must be cleaned and disinfected after each use, and each person must have his or her own hydration bottle. Similarly, only individual, prepackaged meals and individually-wrapped utensils may be provided to players and staff.
Standard screening questions and temperature checks will still be in place upon arrival, and those arrivals are mandated to be staggered to maximize distancing. Personal protective equipment like facemasks must be worn, and hand washing and disinfectant stations are required to use before and after sessions.