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EPL approves stage 1 health protocol, Newcastle set to return to small group training

We break down the latest news from the English Premier League, as it works toward a June 12th return amidst the Covid-19 pandemic.

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A general view of an empty concourse at Liverpool Football Club’s Anfield stadium as concerns escalate over the spreading of COVID-19 Coronavirus on March 15, 2020 in Liverpool, England. Photo by Simon Stacpoole/Offside/Offside via Getty Images

The English Premier League is making progress toward a return to play in June, and on Monday the organizing body agreed on the first set of health protocols, per BBC sports editor Dan Roan.

The changes will allow for a return to small group training starting Tuesday afternoon. Squads can train while maintaining social distancing, which means contact training is not yet permitted. Newcastle United confirmed they will start training on Tuesday, but not all teams are immediately starting group training, according to BBC Sport reporter Simon Stone.

A previous BBC report on the protocols indicate no more than five players can train together at one time. Everything will be disinfected after each training session, including corner-flags, balls, cones, goalposts, and playing surfaces.

The leagues are planning on conducting twice-weekly testing and daily pre-training questionnaires and temperature checks. USA Today is reporting teams have already started testing players and coaches, “with a total of 1,600 weekly tests anticipated across the 20 clubs in England’s top division.”

The season would have been wrapping up at this point, but there were nine weekends of matches remaining at the time the EPL suspended play. The Bundesliga had nine matchdays remaining when it restarted, and was able to schedule them into a seven-week stretch, with two mid-week matchdays planned. The EPL is targeting June 12th as its return date.