Football in Italy will be allowed to return to individual training on 4 May and team training on 18 May after the Italian prime minister announced the first steps in lifting the country’s coronavirus lockdown.
There are hopes Serie A fixtures could resume between 27 May and 2 June – with an end date for the season of early August.
However, there was no formal announcement on the possibility of when Serie A might resume, even behind closed doors.
Parks will also reopen in the country, which has Europe’s highest official death toll.
Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte said in a televised address that players would be able “to undertake training individually from 4 May, in groups from 18 May, and then we’ll evaluate if there are the conditions to allow the season to be completed”.
He added: “Right now, we need to complete all the discussions to ensure that if we do reach that stage, we’ll do so in the utmost safety and security. We are passionate about sport and don’t want our athletes to get sick.
“I’m passionate for football. Like many Italians, I initially found it strange that the championship could be interrupted or suspended but I think that even the most ardent fan understands that there wasn’t an alternative.”
Conte added that when “phase two” of the the lockdown plan begins on 4 May with the easing of restrictions, social distancing of at least one metre must be maintained and this extends to two metres when exercising.
The lifting of measures in Italy will be watched with interest by other countries in Europe. In the UK, the government is this week planning to set up the first of a series of regular meetings involving senior medical directors of the major sports in a bid to return to action as soon as possible.
The Italian Football Federation (FIGC) hopes to begin testing players for the virus at the start of May to allow for a safe return to training and has already drawn up a medical protocol.
For the start of training, each club will form a group of players, technical staff, doctors and physiotherapists who will be tested and then isolated in a summer-style training camp.
There are also plans to donate five Covid test kits for each kit used by clubs to avoid the criticism that football is taking away much-needed resources from other areas.
Serie A was suspended on 9 March and a number of players tested positive for the virus. The league has insisted it is committed to finishing the season.
The FIGC said on Thursday it would push back the formal end of the season from 30 June to 2 August to allow time for remaining games to be completed.
“If we do not respect social distancing, the curve will climb again, so will the number of deaths, and we will have irreversible damage to our economy he added.