Germany's Bundesliga teams will be forced to enter 'quarantine training camps' next month in a move designed to ensure the season ends before Euro 2020.
The drastic step was announced by the German football league (DFL) on Thursday and will begin on May 3 with an initial soft quarantine as players, coaches and team officials are ordered to only leave their homes to visit club training facilities or to take part in a matchday.
A harder quarantine will follow from May 12 as the same groups are ordered to stay in locked-down team camps away from their families when not involved in games, with that period ending after the final matches of the season take place on the weekend of May 22-23. It means teams must provide accommodation and living quarters for players and core team staff over that period.
The new rules will apply to all 18 clubs in the Bundesliga and also those that make up the 2. Bundesliga, with the DFL declaring it had told clubs in March that this step was under consideration.
Hertha Berlin players were ordered to isolate last week in a move that has seen three of their Bundesliga games postponed, while the second division of the league has also been hit by call-offs due to COVID-19 cases, complicating the task of finishing the season on time.
Any further cases in the closing weeks of the campaign could cause fixture backlogs that may prove insurmountable before the Euros. Relegation play-offs follow the Bundesliga regular season, and Euro 2020 begins on June 11.
The DFL said in a statement: "Two steps are planned: firstly, the group of persons included in the regular PCR testing programme, comprising the professional team, coaching team and team officials, must stay solely in their home environment or on the training premises/in the stadium ['quasi quarantine'] from Monday, 3 May.
"This is intended to reduce contact and further minimise the infection risk and was successfully implemented in the final phase of last season after the resumption of match operations.
"In the next step, from Wednesday, 12 May, the corresponding group of persons at all 36 clubs will enter a 'quarantine training camp', having undergone a PCR test with a negative result no more than 24 hours beforehand. The 'quarantine training camp' is compulsory until the end of the final match of the respective club on matchday 34 [22/23 May]. Consequently, the last two matchdays of the Bundesliga and Bundesliga 2 according to the fixture list fall within this specific period.
"The purpose of the 'quarantine training camps' is to provide extra safeguards for the staging of matches, particularly in view of the time pressure caused by UEFA EURO, which follows the regular season.
"It is the clubs' responsibility to ensure that players, coaches and training staff come into contact with no one but each other during the stated period."
Bayern Munich, who said they welcomed the quarantine plan, look set to wrap up the Bundesliga title before their players are forced to collectively isolate. Victory over Mainz on Saturday would guarantee a ninth successive championship for the Bavarians.