Bundesliga clubs will move into mandatory quarantine for the final two rounds of the season as a preventative measure against any further fixture postponements due to COVID-19.
The German Football League (DFL) confirmed the measures on Thursday. The new protocols see the players and staff from the 18 Bundesliga clubs have their movements restricted from May 2, and then placed into closed training camps for from May 12.
The DFL has moved to bring in this two-step process to prevent any further fixture changes or scheduling chaos after Hertha Berlin were forced to postpone three of their matches due to a COVID-19 outbreak at the club. The two stages mean from May 2 -- for matchday 32 -- players and staff will only be allowed to leave their homes for training and matches. And then from May 12, they will move into biosecure training bubbles, based away from home, and will only travel for matches.
With limited room for the season to be prolonged beyond its May 23 finish date due to the rescheduled European Championship, the DFL hopes these stringent measures will see the league stick to its originally planned schedule.
The changes were made off the back of recommendations by the Special Match Operations Task Force, which has steered the Bundesliga through the chaos caused by COVID-19. The Bundesliga were the first of Europe's major leagues to return after football was paused last March, and their match management and protocols were used as a blueprint for the other leagues to get their games back on.
But with the Hertha Berlin case fresh in the minds -- they were placed into a 14-day quarantine after four positive cases at the club -- the DFL has acted to safeguard the end point of their top two divisions, with 2. Bundesliga also adopting these measures.
From May 12-23, individuals, such as team doctors, will only be allowed to leave the biosecure bubble in "exceptional cases on account of particular professional duties." This effectively means the 18 Bundesliga teams will be in lockdown for 11 days as the league plays out to its finale.
"The purpose of the "quarantine training camps" is to provide extra safeguards for the staging of matches, particularly in view of the time pressure caused by UEFA Euros, which follows the regular season," the DFL statement read. "It is the clubs' responsibility to ensure that players, coaches and training staff come into contact with no one but each other during the stated period. All requirements of the medical and hygiene-related concept remain unchanged.
"If individuals such as team doctors have to temporarily leave the "quarantine training camp" in exceptional cases on account of particular professional duties, they may only return to the group of persons if they take further protective measures, including a negative antigen rapid test immediately before returning."
Bayern Munich are 10 points clear at the top of the Bundesliga with four matches remaining, while Schalke's relegation to 2. Bundesliga has been confirmed.