Germany’s Bundesliga is returning on May 16 with games in empty stadiums without spectators, the German Football League (Deutsche Fußball Liga) announced on Thursday.
The schedule will pick up with Matchday 26, which features a derby match between Borussia Dortmund and Schalke. Bayern Munich, which sits in first place in the table, will resume their season on May 17 against Union Berlin.
The news comes a day after German chancellor Angela Merkel gave Bundesliga the OK to resume its season in the second half of May after a teleconference with state government leaders to set guidelines for a return, which will include frequent testing. Team members will be isolated in a hotel prior to the restart of the season, and once the season gets underway, the athletes will receive at least two COVID-19 tests in the build-up to each match, according to the New York Times.
Play has been suspended since March due to the coronavirus pandemic, but the league has been zeroing in on a return thanks to the high-level testing and supreme organization to handle the situation. As a result, Merkel is working with the federal states in Germany to ease some of the social distancing guidelines by early June. Clubs have been training in small groups for weeks, while some like Bayer Leverkusen have long had pandemic task forces.
Christian Seifert, the CEO of the German Football League, said in April that the Bundesliga was ready to return pending the approval from national and state politicians. Some thought that the OK would come on April 30 during a government meeting, but that was delayed until Wednesday.
Stadiums will be allowed to have 330 people, including security, club employees, teams, staff and more.