FRANKFURT, Germany (AP) — Coaches and substitutes won’t have to wear face masks on the touchline for much longer in German soccer, after one of the most striking measures against the coronavirus was relaxed.

The German federation and men’s league said Wednesday that people in a team’s technical zone won’t have to wear masks during the game, as long as they stay 1.5 meters (5 feet) away from each other. There was no mention of relaxing rules on masks at other times, such as during arrival at the stadium.

Players on the field have never had to wear masks, and there were already relaxed rules for each team’s head coach to be able to give instructions. More journalists will also be allowed at games.

The rule changes only take effect from Friday, so Bayern Munich and Eintracht Frankfurt’s players and staff still wore masks on the sidelines of Wednesday’s cup semifinal.

The federation and league said in a joint statement that the changes had the approval of the German labor ministry and that restricting the spread of the coronavirus remained their “highest priority.”

The German Bundesliga was the first of Europe’s major soccer leagues to resume without fans amid the pandemic. It started play on May 16 and teams have since played five out of nine scheduled rounds of games.


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