The growing impact of the Coronavirus outbreak will be felt in Non-League this weekend after the Vanarama National League became the latest competition to ban handshakes and ask players and match officials to take other precautions.
The BetVictor Isthmian League, Spartan South Midlands League, Essex Senior League and Hellenic League have all gone public with similar advice for their players and officials this week after being contacted by the Football Association with the latest information on the outbreak.
The English Football League also banned handshakes on Friday and other competitions have already briefed their clubs privately with many expected to make public statements on new guidelines to protect their fans, players and officials in the coming days.
Sweeping the globe, with cases in at least 48 countries and more than 100,000 confirmed by Friday, the virus is starting to have a major impact on big sporting events and disrupt other large public gatherings.
Statement | Fair-Play Handshakes
— The National League (@TheVanaramaNL) March 6, 2020
Matches in Italy’s Serie A were postponed or played behind closed doors this week while the Ireland versus Italy Six Nations rugby match in Dublin at the weekend has also been postponed. Many other events and large public gatherings have also been banned while schools and universities in Italy were also closed until mid-March this week.
The National League statement read: “The National League has received communication from The Football Association in connection to the government’s response to the Coronavirus (COVID-19).
“In light of the government’s campaign, and as a precaution, pre-match ‘fair play’ handshakes between players and match officials will not take place in The National League until further notice.
“Similarly, customary handshakes between captains and match officials ahead of kick-off will not be required.”
The public information campaign is currently advising people to:
• Wash your hands with soap and water often – do this for at least 20 seconds
• Always wash your hands when you get home or into work
• Use hand sanitiser gel if soap and water are not available
• Cover your mouth and nose with a tissue or your sleeve (not your hands) when you cough or sneeze
• Put used tissues in the bin straight away and wash your hands afterwards
• Try to avoid close contact with people who are unwell
• Not to touch your eyes, nose or mouth if your hands are not clean
The statement added: “All clubs and supporters are encouraged to stay up to date on the government’s latest advice on how to avoid catching or spreading the virus.”
Make sure you get your copy of The Non-League Paper on Sunday for the latest news and action from across Non-League over the last seven days.
As well as exclusive match reports and pictures from all of Saturday’s fixtures in the Vanarama National League, the BetVictor-Sponsored Isthmian League, Southern League and Northern Premier League, The Non-League Paper’s live coverage extends all the way to Steps 5 and 6.
Images courtesy of CDC (USA) & @TheVanaramaNL/Twitter