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Premier League Removes Fair-Play Handshakes Due to Coronavirus Fears

Due to fears over the spread of coronavirus, the Premier League has done away with fair-play handshakes until further notice.

The new rule will start this weekend and applies to players and match officials. 

"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," the league 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. Clubs and match officials will still perform the rest of the traditional walk-out protocol ahead of each fixture."

When teams line up on the field before games, they will walk past each other without shaking hands.

Premier League said it does not plan to cancel any upcoming games, but does encourage fans to take precautions to avoid the possible spread of the virus, including washing hands for at least 20 seconds and avoiding contact with people who are unwell.

Liverpool, who will host Bournemouth on Saturday, released a statement saying it canceled trips for staff members traveling to high-risk countries. The club will also provide hand sanitizer and antibacterial soap in all the restrooms at Anfield. The Reds are also taking match day precautionary measures by not having any mascots on the pitch.

Coronavirus concerns led Serie A to postpone six games without fans last weekend after the virus spread in Italy–the epicenter of Europe's outbreak. On Wednesday, the Italian government announced all sporting events must take place without spectators until April 3

The virus has infected nearly 97,000 people worldwide and killed over 3,300. The Guardian reports cases in the United Kingdom have surged to 115, and the first patient's death has been confirmed. 

Information from the Associated Press was used in this report.