Premier League football clubs located in England’s new Tier 4 are expected to increase the number of Covid-19 tests to twice a week to tackle the new strain of the virus.
On Saturday, December 19, the Prime Minister announced that some regions of the country would move from level 3 to level 4 status, resulting in more stringent restrictions following the identification of a new strain of coronavirus that is believed to spread faster .
Large parts of South East England, including London’s 32 Boroughs, have been moved to Level 4 status. Health experts have suggested the new strain of COVID-19 is “susceptible” to ‘lead to postponements in the Premier League which, after 14 rounds of the current season, has seen only one game canceled due to the pandemic.
In order to avoid these planned disruptions, Premier League clubs in Tier 4 should increase the number of tests they perform on their players and staff, according to the Daily Mail. England’s top flight teams at the country’s highest level would be tested every 72 hours as an “extra precaution”.
The six London Premier League clubs, Arsenal, Chelsea, Crystal Palace, Fulham, Tottenham and West Ham have been placed at level 4 and can carry out this renewed testing protocol.
This increased testing schedule is believed to be introduced after the holiday season and is the culmination of talks that would have been “underway for quite some time” before the latest update speeded things up.
The Premier League reported less than 0.5% positive tests after the last batch of results, but several teams outside of England’s top flight have revealed a slew of new positive cases. However, the speed of transmission in League One’s Ipswich Town cases has led team physio Matt Byard to speculate that players and club staff have contracted the new strain.
Byard shared his thoughts on increasing testing on the club’s official website, saying: “I know the EFL is looking to introduce additional measures, with maybe more testing for example. I have always supported routine testing to ensure a return to the reading program.
“Personally, with so many clubs currently affected by this situation and this new variety development, football could benefit from a ‘circuit breaker’ before it can safely return to the game.”