For a few weeks it felt like a light at the end of a tunnel. London-based football clubs along as others in areas not as affected by COVID-19 infections, were allowed to have a small number of fans in stadiums, and with a vaccine starting to be deployed it started to feel something almost like returning to normal.
All that ended recently with the identification of a new, more contagious strain of coronavirus, prompting the creation of a new Tier 4 category of lockdown in the United Kingdom that includes London and parts of the southeast of England. Now clubs in the affected areas are needing to be even more diligent in how they test and prevent transmission of the virus, even as football continues on.
Tottenham Hotspur are among the teams affected. According to the Athletic (£), Spurs are in a group of London-based Premier League clubs in Tier 4 that includes Arsenal, Chelsea, Crystal Palace, Fulham, and West Ham that will now test their players and staff twice a week for COVID.
It once again raises the spectre of the Premier League pausing matches if there is an outbreak of the virus among multiple clubs, especially in the greater London area. There are currently no plans to postpone matches at this time, and the Athletic states that the extra testing is considered an “additional precaution.”
The new strain of coronavirus is apparently 70% more communicable, but is not thought to have any different or more severe symptoms from the original that precipitated the pandemic. According to the New York Times, this new variant of the virus is concerning, but not cause for panic and that the current vaccines now deployed are expected to effectively prevent transmission of this new variant in those who receive it. However, clubs are choosing to be even more careful and to more closely monitor their players and staff in the wake of these new developments.