Spanish league sets protocols for the return of fans

MADRID (AP) — Fans will have their temperature checked and will need to wear face masks when they are eventually allowed back into soccer stadiums in Spain, according to protocol guidelines sent to clubs.

They will also be told to avoid hugs and high-fives when their team scores.

There is still no timeframe for the return of fans, but the Spanish league has drafted guidelines to be followed for when authorities allow it.

The protocol was sent to clubs late Sunday and was obtained by The Associated Press on Monday. The 16-page document includes details on how fans must behave to guarantee their safe return to stadiums.

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Attendance will be limited and there will be specific time slots for supporters to enter the venues. No one with a temperature of 37.5 degrees Celsius (99.5 degrees Fahrenheit) or higher will be allowed inside, and the sale of food or team merchandising will be prohibited.

Supporters will be told to keep a safe distance inside the venues, and to show their backs to other fans while moving within their rows. They are encouraged to remain seated most of the time and to constantly use alcohol hand gels. Touching doorknobs is not recommended.

Temperatures will be taken at a first check point and those with a high reading will be tested again 10 minutes later. If the high temperature remains, they will not be allowed inside.

About a third of each stadium’s capacity will likely be allowed in, but fans will have designated times to arrive to avoid crowding outside. The elderly will be allowed to arrive closer to kickoff and will be seated closer to evacuation areas. Other groups will have to arrive 15 minutes apart. A similar procedure will be implemented after the match. Fans will be encouraged not to use public transportation.

Season-ticket holders are expected to get the first chance to watch matches. They will have to pre-register with their clubs but may not be able to use their regular seats.

Fliers with the code of conduct will be distributed to fans, but they will also have to download instructions before being allowed to attend matches.

Spain this weekend ended the state of emergency that had been in place since mid-March because of the coronavirus pandemic, but restrictions on large gatherings have remained in place.

Government officials have been hesitant on having fans back, but the Spanish league is in favor of their return if health conditions are adequate. Local authorities will make the final decision.

The country’s top sports government official, Irene Lozano, said recently she wanted Spain to lead the way by successfully bringing fans back to stadiums, although at the time she didn’t expect that to happen until next season.

Matches resumed on June 11 in empty stadiums.

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