Premier League stops handshakes to halt coronavirus spread

Manchester United goalkeeper David de Gea gestures during a match against Everton. (AP pic)

LONDON: Players in England’s Premier League will forgo the traditional pre-game handshake between opponents as a measure to prevent the further spread of the coronavirus, the league said on Thursday.

“The Premier League fair-play handshake will not take place between players and match officials from this weekend until further notice based on medical advice,” a statement said.

“Coronavirus is spread via droplets from the nose and mouth and can be transmitted on to the hands and passed on via a handshake.”

Officials will carry out the rest of the league’s normal walk-out protocol before each match and both teams will line up as usual, but players will walk past their opponents without shaking hands.

Clubs in English’s top division including Newcastle United, Southampton, West Ham United and Wolverhampton Wanderers have banned handshakes at training sessions and other European clubs have taken similar measures to prevent spreading the virus.