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The PFA has urged its members to remember the “vital importance” of following club and coronavirus protocols as the UK enters a third period of national lockdown.
On Monday, the UK government confirmed that England would be under strict restrictions as rates of COVID-19 infection and deaths continue to rise.
Although vaccines are starting to roll out in vulnerable groups, the UK recorded 62,322 new cases and 1,041 deaths on Wednesday.
On Tuesday, the Premier League confirmed that 40 players and staff members, a new record, had tested positive for the virus in the most recent two rounds of testing, up from 18 the previous week.
Three matches in England’s top flight were postponed during the festive period, while a series of EFL games also failed to take place.
With elite sport allowed to continue despite the new lockdown regulations, the Premier League has insisted that it has full faith in its protocols, while the EFL announced on Wednesday that it would introduce a twice-weekly testing regimen, a starting January 11.
However, amid the surge in cases and deaths, there have been high-profile examples of players breaking coronavirus rules in recent weeks.
Manchester City, which has been affected by an outbreak within its team, launched an investigation into reports that Benjamin Mendy hosted a party on New Year’s Eve that included guests from outside his home.
Meanwhile, Tottenham head coach José Mourinho was disappointed to learn of a Christmas reunion in which Sergio Reguilon, Erik Lamela and Giovani Lo Celso violated regulations, assisted by West Ham’s Manuel Lanzini.
I want to apologize for a serious mistake I made during Christmas and I take full responsibility for my actions. I know that people have made difficult sacrifices to stay safe and I should set a better example.
– Manuel Lanzini (@manulanzini) January 2, 2021
The PFA has issued a statement that reads: “Following the announcement of a third national shutdown, the PFA wishes to reinforce the message that players must follow current COVID-19 rules and club protocols as a matter of vital importance.
“In a tight-knit soccer environment, the ramifications of any breach of the rules are potentially very damaging for players, clubs and the game in general.
“It is a testament to the hard work of everyone involved that the vast majority of the games have gone on to schedule and the risks to players, staff and their families have been well managed and minimized.
“Although the outlook is brighter due to the imminent launch of the vaccine, players must continue to take the initiative and act responsibly and professionally.
“Between now and the end of the season, we ask that you continue to take personal responsibility and follow the lockout rules, without exception.
“Throughout the pandemic, we have seen that players are uniquely positioned to inspire and positively influence society.
“His compliance with national restrictions sets the right example for millions of fans and young people. Following the rules is also the best way to protect your loved ones, your colleagues, and your families from harm. “