Premier League soccer players who are fully vaccinated against the CCP (Chinese Communist Party) virus will be allowed to travel to countries on the United Kingdom’s red list during this month’s international break, officials announced on Friday.
The new rule will also enable players who return from red zone countries to play or train while being subjected to a mandatory 10-day quarantine at “bespoke facilities” instead of hotels. Players who are not fully vaccinated will still be subjected to quarantine in a government-allocated hotel.
“We have worked closely with football authorities to achieve an outcome that balances the interests of both club and country while maintaining the highest levels of public health and safety,” a government spokesperson told news agency Reuters.
“These new measures will allow fully vaccinated players to fulfill their international duties in the safest, most practical way possible while allowing them to train and play with their clubs as early as possible upon their return.”
The international break runs from Oct. 4 to Oct. 15, with the Premier League resuming on Oct. 16.
Players traveling to countries red-listed by the UK government must adhere to a code of conduct that includes restrictions on transport, protocols on testing, and social bubbles.
The “red list exemption” prompted some criticism from Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp.
“That doesn’t sound to me like a real solution,” Klopp said during a news conference. “It’s 10 days’ quarantine, allowed to play the games, allowed to go to work, not allowed to live at home but don’t need to live in a hotel chosen by any authorities and you can choose it yourself.”
“That would mean for the players after the international break that they go for 10-12 days with their national teams and then they go another 10 days into quarantine away from their families. That’s 22 days and two weeks later there is the next international break,” he said.
Many clubs have refused to release players to “red list” countries such as Brazil and Argentina during the September international break, and the Premier League is looking to avoid a similar situation that angered national federations.
The UK government has since eased CCP virus regulations after the problems it caused during last month’s break.
Liverpool, Manchester United, Chelsea, and Manchester City were among clubs that did not release players for the September break, as they would have been traveling to countries on the UK’s COVID-19 red list.
Reuters contributed to this report.