Players of both Bristol City and Rovers will go back to rules similar to last season. (Photo by Harry Trump/Getty Images)
In light of the Omicron variant, the EFL has reverted to ‘RED’ protocols, which is what we saw for the majority of last season.
It includes increased testing, social distancing being reintroduced, as well as encouragement on players to receive their booster if possible or their first jab if they have yet to be vaccinated.
Getting players to be vaccinated however is proving difficult, across four divisions 75% of players are vaccinated, but 25% say they don’t intend to get vaccinated.
The amount of double vaccinated players is at 59% whilst 16% say they will get a booster jab.
EFL’s Medical Advisor, Dr Richard Higgins said: “Further to enhanced medical guidance recently issued, in response to a growing number of COVID-19 cases and subsequent fixtures postponements in recent days, the EFL has opted to strengthen its protocols for all Clubs to help minimise the health risks to individuals while seeking to mitigate against the threat of further fixture postponements in the weeks ahead.
“Alongside enhanced protocols which includes mandatory testing ahead of matchdays, the EFL continues to strongly encourage players and staff at Clubs to get fully vaccinated and obtain a booster jab if eligible to do so.
“We know that getting double jabbed and boosted now will reduce the risk of getting seriously ill or dying from COVID-19, reduce the risk of catching or spreading COVID-19 amongst team-mates and loved ones, while helping protect against COVID-19 variants including Omicron.”
This week has already seen the cancellation of many Premier League fixtures, whilst only four Championship fixtures remain this weekend with City’s match against Huddersfield Town still set to go ahead.
Changes to the usual match rital will see players avoid pre-match handshake whilst it has been advised that there should be limited interactions at the full-time whistle.
Fans have already been told to provide a COVID-19 vaccination passport or proof of a negative lateral or PCR test 48 hours before kick-off should they want to attend the match.
From Saturday, all 72 clubs will have to conduct daily COVID-19 testing amongst their players and staff with only key personnel expected at training facilities.
It means pre-match conferences should now be conducted over Zoom rather than journalists physically being in attendance.
City have already been operating on that basis since Nigel Pearson’s second bout of COVID whilst Rovers have recently began conducting theirs online.
The statement confirms that the season will continue despite some opinions in the footballing world to pause the campaign.
Brentford manager Thomas Frank, who manages in the Premier League, wanted the next two weeks of fixtures to be paused as part of a circuit breaker.
The EFL’s own take on it though is that clubs will be expected to play where it has 14 players and a goalkeeper available from the club’s registered list of players.