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The Ministry of Home Affairs has issued a circular with guidelines for the fifth phase of reopening following the pandemic…

In a new set of guidelines, detailing the fifth phase of unlocking following the Coronavirus pandemic, the Government of India has relaxed crowd restrictions it had imposed on sporting events. 

The previous guidelines had stated that sporting activities, including football, can resume from 21st September 2020. But the Ministry of Home Affairs also specified that only 100 spectators will be allowed to attend sporting activities, outside of containment zones. 

However, as per the new guidelines released on Wednesday, states and union territories have been given the flexibility to permit such gatherings beyond the limit of 100 persons from 15th October 2020. 

But they are subject to certain relaxed conditions:

1) In closed arenas, only 50 per cent of the total capacity will be allowed. However, the maximum number of spectators will be limited at 200. All social distancing protocols including sanitising processes are mandatory. 

2) In open stadiums, the number will be fixed after taking stock of the size of the ground. Even then, the implementation of social distancing protocols is mandatory. 

The necessary ‘Standard Operating Procedures’ (SOP) is expected to be issued for the same by the Ministry of Home Affairs soon. 

However, international air travel of passengers continues to be restricted, unless approved by the MHA, which might be of significance for Indian clubs and their foreign signings.

Unlock

The All India Football Federation (AIFF) had acted on the instructions of the government to pause all football activities in March earlier this year as the country entered into a lockdown.

The Indian Super League (ISL) was wrapped up before the lockdown began but the I-League had to be halted with four rounds left to play. The remaining rounds were later cancelled and Mohun Bagan, who had an unassailable lead, were declared as the champions. 

However, the I-League second division and various AIFF youth leagues were paused.

The upcoming season is expected to begin in November 2020 with the ISL and I-League set to be held in centralised venues (Goa and West Bengal respectively). The paused I-League second division is set to start on October 8, 2020. 

It must be noted that several major leagues around the world have resumed without the involvement of spectators.

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September 30, 2020
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