Portuguese readiness for late May restart needs to be assessed

One of the Western European countries least impacted by the coronavirus, Portugal has begun to reopen.

A week ago, a state of emergency was lifted, and small businesses reopened.  The top-flight Primeira Liga, suspended since mid-March, is scheduled to restart on May 30 or 31, pending approval of the Health Ministry (DGS).

But positive tests at three clubs --  three players and two staff at Famalicao, three players at Vitoria Guimaraes and one player at Benfica -- have raised alarms.

“It’s a very complex situation to reconcile the return of football with health and safety regulations,” DGS head Graca Fretes said. “If the tests carried out by the teams indicate a high number of positive results, a specific risk assessment will have to be considered by local, regional and national health authorities. The rules will be followed, we will wait for the results and then we will assess the risks."

The plan is for players to be tested 48 hours before games and shortly before them. To minimize the chances of catching the virus, players, coaches and referees will have to shelter in place between trips to training or games.

All games will be played behind closed doors at a small number of stadiums. The two island teams -- Maritimo and Santa Clara -- will have to play all their matches on the mainland for the duration of the championship.

Porto leads Benfica by one point with 10 games to play.

Photo: Atlantico Press/Zuma Press/Icon Sportswire

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