Clubs in Spanish soccer's top two divisions can begin training in small groups from Monday as they move into the third phase of a protocol for resuming activity after disruption caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, a source close to the matter has said.
The source said organising body La Liga had informed clubs they could start training in groups of up to 10 players from May 18 following an order issued by the government's department for health on Saturday which modified guidelines for elite athletes.
Players from all top-flight and second division clubs had returned to their training grounds earlier this month for the first time since all organised soccer in Spain was provisionally suspended in early March due to the pandemic but were only able to conduct individual sessions.
They will move into the penultimate phase of the return to activity on Monday, while full training, phase four, will be allowed once regions enter the second phase of the national state of emergency.
La Liga president Javier Tebas said last week he hoped the season could resume from June 12, but for that to happen all regions where matches are taking place must enter phase two.
The provinces of Madrid and Barcelona are currently in phase zero of the state of emergency, meaning La Liga leaders Barcelona and nearest challengers Real Madrid will be unable to begin matches until restrictions are eased.
Also, soccer clubs in Italy's top-flight can resume full training from May 18, Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte said on Saturday, as part of a further easing of restrictions of one of the world's strictest coronavirus lockdowns.
Serie A has been suspended since March 9 and a date has not yet been set for the season to re-start, although players have returned to individual training while respecting social distancing rules.
Italy was the first European country to be seriously affected by the coronavirus crisis while Serie A was the first league to play matches without spectators and the first major league to suspend play.
Conte confirmed that football clubs would return to training on Monday along with other sports teams but could not give any details about when Serie A would resume.
On Saturday, Germany's Bundesliga became the first major European league to re-start since the COVID-19 pandemic obliterated the global sporting calendar.
"There are so many pressures to re-start Serie A but it is necessary that the highest safety conditions are in place," Conte added.
"To give a precise date we need to have some more guarantees than those we have at the moment but from what I've been told, we haven't had them yet."
Juventus were leading the Serie A standings by one point over second-placed Lazio with 12 games remaining when the season was halted in March.
Italy has the third-highest death toll from coronavirus in the world although its daily tally on Saturday fell to 153, the lowest since March 9.