Pep Guardiola has urged his players to be careful if socialising over Christmas to prevent a coronavirus outbreak at Manchester City.
The City manager has revealed the champions have cancelled plans for a large staff party this year, but players will not be prevented from arranging their own private gatherings.
Even then, it is not something he will be encouraging and he trusts that if groups do meet, appropriate caution will be exercised.
The issue has been brought into sharper focus of late following the emergence of the Omicron variant, the UK Government’s decision to tighten regulations in England and, with particular relevance for football, a spate of positive cases at Tottenham and Leicester.
Guardiola, who lost his mother to Covid-19 last year, said: “The club spoke with them and they know that they have to be careful and know not to go to gatherings and be at home as much as possible – or when you go out be careful, social distance, wear a mask and come back.
“As much as you protect mentally and feel that the you are out (of it), you can get Covid and (you must) live with that feeling you can get Covid.
“The club, every winter time or Christmas time, organises a party for all the workers, all the people here, and we cancelled it. We cannot do it.
“But (if) everyone at home, when they’re with a family and kids, organise a party – I think they’re going to do it, but just be careful.
“Today we have lateral flow and PCR tests and everyone can do it easier than the previous Christmas time, so we’re not going to say don’t do it. Just be careful, that’s all, because the risk is high.
“Look what happened in other teams like Tottenham and Leicester and in many, many cases. It can happen here as well if we don’t pay attention and after that it is a big problem, for them of course, for the health and for the family, and of course for the team.”
Guardiola, whose side host Wolves on Saturday, accepts players will want to enjoy themselves over Christmas but hopes they recognise their responsibilities.
He said: “Why should it be different for the players to the rest of humanity, to the rest of society? The rest of the people always like to go to restaurants and go out and talk with the people and we are no exception.
“But we are fortunate that we have a job where we can put 50-60,000 people in the stadiums. This is the reality.
“They have to accept that still we are in a dangerous situation. Just see the statistics and the rules of the Government and it is still there, unfortunately.
“There are setbacks and you have to protect yourself because in Christmas time they have a tendency for more parties and go out more often and in that you have to be careful.”