Starting as early as May 6, Atlanta United and other MLS players may begin to use outdoor team training fields for individual workouts, in compliance with detailed health and safety protocols that were created in consultation with medical and infectious disease experts, the league announced Friday.
This re-opening has many stipulations, and it should be noted that the only portions of the facilities open to players are out in the fresh air. The individual player workout protocol prohibits access to club facilities including but not limited to locker rooms, team gyms, and team training rooms. Team gyms and training rooms may still only be accessed by players receiving post-operative and rehabilitation treatment, as directed by the club’s Chief Medical Officer.
The full list of protocols that teams must prepare for are as follows:
- Restricting training facility access to essential staff only, with specific staff listed in the plan.
- Sanitization and disinfection plans for all training equipment and spaces, including disinfection of any equipment used by players (balls, cones, goals) between every session.
- Completion of a Standard Screening Assessment survey by each player prior to every arrival at the training site, and temperature checks upon arrival at the facility.
- Staggered player and staff arrivals and departures, with designated parking spaces to maintain maximum distance between vehicles.
- Player use of personal protective equipment from the parking lot to the field, and again on return to the parking lot.
- Staff use of the appropriate personal protective equipment throughout training, while also maintaining a minimum distance of 10 feet from players at all times.
- Hand washing and disinfectant stations for required use before and after individual workouts.
- Clubs will have the use of the outdoor fields at their training facility, divided into a maximum of four quadrants per field. A maximum of one player per quadrant may participate per training session with no equipment sharing or playing (passing, shooting) between players.
- An Emergency Action Plan for all COVID-19 related issues.
Players will be prohibited from having any physical interaction with one another, including as much as passing a ball. The Athletic’s Paul Tenorio offered some more explanations in a Twitter thread Friday.
Regarding individual training sessions, this is literally a player training on his own on a quadrant of the field. No coaches. What drove this was giving players a safe space to train. Teams have developed detailed protocol to maintain social distancing and keep players safe.— Paul Tenorio (@PaulTenorio) May 1, 2020
Helping players regain as much fitness as possible now will expedite the time teams need to prepare for actual games once public health officials approve of a plan to resume the season. It’s a small move in the grand scheme of re-starting the 2020 MLS season, but it’s huge in terms of the message that will be felt by players, fans and staff associated with the league.