As we slowly enter year three of COVID-19, the end of the pandemic (whatever that may look like) remains a rather elusive concept and target. The “tidal wave” of the Omicron variant is about to sweep across the globe even as the Delta variant continues to rule the landscape in most places. We’re seeing rising case numbers in Europe and America, with the expected and now familiar responses to them following in step: masking, distancing, vaccine passports, working from home, overloaded healthcare systems, lockdowns, etc.
In professional sports, there’s been an increase in cancellations and postponements on either side of the Atlantic, and while no league has had to institute an emergency break (just yet), we’re seeing the return of games behind closed doors or at least reduced capacities in some places. Fortunately, it’s not come to that in England (just yet), but vaccine passports will be mandatory at every ground over 10,000 capacity as part of “Plan B” (they already were at Stamford Bridge since the start of the season), while Premier League teams have decided to move to daily rapid (lateral flow) testing of players and staff in addition to the twice weekly and more stringent PCR testing that we had seen before.
The league announced a record 42 positive tests from last week (not just for this season but since testing began in May 2020), with two games postponed, including Brighton vs. Spurs and Brentford vs. Manchester United. Chelsea have remained relatively unaffected, with only Mateo Kovačić currently in isolation.
If you haven’t yet, it’s probably a good time to go get your shots or booster and help manage the spread and impact of this virus.