CHICAGO – The National Women’s Soccer League Monday announced that all clubs may advance to Phase Two – Small Group Training under guidelines outlined by the NWSL Medical Task Force.

Those guidelines were in the league’s “Return to Play Phased Protocol,” which are subject to state and local governmental requirements.

“Following the advice and counsel of our medical advisors, the NWSL is pleased to be taking the next steps to safely return to competition,” said NWSL commissioner Lisa Baird said in a statement.

The NWSL did not start its season in April due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

All groups during Phase Two must not exceed eight players. Prior to entering a facility, all players must complete a Pre-Training Assessment (PTA) and have a daily symptom and temperature screening. In Small Group Training, clubs are permitted to use weight rooms, training rooms and meeting rooms.

Essential staff authorized in Phase 2 are coaches, athletic trainers, sports scientists, team physicians and equipment managers. All players and staff members are required to take both an Antigen polymerase chain reaction (PCR) test and an Antibody (IgG) test prior to being present at any group trainings.

Beginning Saturday, May 30, teams may progress to Phase Three – full team training provided that five days of small group training have been completed and doing so is not in violation of state or local restrictions.

Throughout Phases Two and Three, players are required to arrive in their training gear and wear masks when arriving and departing the facility. Shared water bottles will not be permitted, and staff will perform a thorough cleaning after each groups’ use of the facilities.

The following principles apply to all phases of the league’s return to play protocol:

* All activity must follow state and local government and health agency mandates

* Each team must have approval from their medical staff to advance to the next phase

* Teams must limit staff to the essential personnel necessary to conduct each phase of training and competition

* Players will undergo a daily symptom screening prior to entering team facilities

* Players who are fulfilling self-quarantine for any reason are not permitted to train with other individuals or at team facilities

* Players, coaches and staff who are sick or have close contact with individuals who are sick must inform the team’s Certified Athletic Trainer, stay home, and not participate in training

* All individuals should practice good hand hygiene, and avoid touching their face, nose and eyes with their hands as much as possible

* All facilities and rooms used are subject to NWSL Standards for Cleaning, Disinfection, and Sanitation

* All facility staff, housekeeping and grounds crew will be scheduled to avoid contact with players and essential staff

The “Return to Play Phased Protocol” details health and safety guidelines and the league will continue to control the progression through each phase.