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In South Korea, No More Gangnam Style For Some As Top Officials Sell Apartments Amid Property Price Furore

SEOUL (Reuters) – As Seoul property prices soar, there’s a new apartment on sale this month: for the best part of an estimated $1 million, you could buy a piece of future Gangnam glitz from reluctant seller Noh Young-min – the chief of staff of President Moon Jae-in.

Noh is one of a group of senior government officials facing a public backlash over multiple home ownership in one of the world’s hottest property markets, where median apartment prices have rocketed more than 50% in three years, KB Bank data shows.

His move to sell his Gangnam crib, the size of about three parking spaces but worth about 1.1 billion won ($915,000) by current market prices, came just ahead of Friday’s government announcement that South Korea will further tighten property rules and impose heavier taxes on multiple homeowners in its latest effort to calm the market.

But more than 20 rounds of cooling measures in the past three years have failed to stop runaway prices. Effective or not, the new steps announced by finance minister Hong Nam-ki – including raising real estate taxes on multiple home-owners to up to 6% per year – will keep public focus an issue that is wiping out a surge in President Moon’s approval ratings from the handling of the coronavirus pandemic.

His approval rating dropped to 47%, a Gallup Korea survey showed on Friday, down from last week’s 50% – the lowest in four months. In early May, Moon’s approval rating hovered around a lofty 70% after the ruling Democratic Party won an absolute majority in a parliamentary election.

“Today’s measures will not have much effect on stabilising the property market as the real estate tax hike will not be applied immediately,” said Kwon Dae-jung, real estate professor at Myongji University.

“The sale of high-ranking officials’ houses is them doing the right thing morally, but that will not directly contribute to stabilising the property market. It can indirectly affect the market by hinting that the government will strengthen its regulations but that’s about it – just giving signals.”

Anger over the failure to calm runaway home prices has extended to government officials with multiple residences, under pressure to sell second homes to show they are committed to policy focused on imposing heavier tax penalties and mortgage curbs for multiple home owners.

For some voters, frustration has already turned to resignation.

Park Byung-jin, a 40-year-old office worker in Incheon, west of Seoul, says he has lost hope in Moon’s policies.

“I’m not even angry. They have been keeping all the good homes, and telling us not to buy anything is extremely unconvincing,” he said.

‘DEEPLY ASHAMED’

Chief of staff Noh has found himself at the centre of the controversy, because he hadn’t sold his Gangnam apartment – small at about 46 square metres in size, but in an ageing building with huge development potential – some six months after instructing senior government officials to unload second homes.

Noh, who didn’t immediately answer calls seeking comment, announced the sale in a Facebook post on Wednesday. “With this opportunity, I will try to look back on myself and treat myself strictly going forward,” he wrote.

His statement came the day before Finance Minister Hong – announcer of Friday’s new taxes – himself committed to selling a second property.

“As a cabinet member, I’m deeply ashamed of myself in front of fellow citizens, and my acquaintances, amid controversy over multiple homes owned by public servants,” Hong said in a Facebook post.

Of 64 senior government officials required disclose their assets, some 18, or 28%, owned more than one property as of June this year, according to data analysed by the Citizens’ Coalition for Economic Justice, a civic group.

Apart from Noh, at least five other officials in top government posts own homes in Gangnam and other expensive districts, according to the group.

The sales announced by Noh and Hong this week came after a stark warning by Prime Minister Chung Sye-kyun on Wednesday, ordering government ministries to look into homeownership status among senior officials.

“Our policies won’t win people’s trust if senior officials own multiple properties,” Chung told a meeting of top government officials.

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Drogheda Social Housing Scheme Wins National Architecture Award

A social housing development for families and elderly people in Drogheda, Co Louth has been named the winner of the Royal Institute of the Architects of Ireland’s (RIAI) 2020 public choice award.

Designed by Drogheda-based architecture practice McKevitt King on the site of a former fire station, the Tooting Meadow social housing development consists of 15 homes and was commissioned by the north and east housing association.

It is located on Scarlet Street and is named after Tooting Tower, which formed part of the nearby walls of Drogheda.

Kylemore Abbey interpretation project in Connemara, Co Galway designed by Axo Architects.

 Kylemore Abbey interpretation project in Connemara, Co Galway designed by Axo Architects.

RIAI president Ciaran O’Connor described the development as “the perfect example” of quality housing which “addresses the country’s changing demographics while also creating sustainable neighbourhoods in our towns and villages”.

Tooting Meadow “transformed a derelict site in the town centre into a mixed-unit development with community at its core,” said Mr O’Connor.

Tooting Meadow was one of 33 projects completed in 2019 and designed by RIAI-registered architects to be shortlisted for the public choice award.

Scoil Mhuire National School in Monivea, Co Galway, designed by SJK architects.

 Scoil Mhuire National School in Monivea, Co Galway, designed by SJK architects.

Kylemore Abbey interpretation project in Connemara, designed by Axo Architects, was awarded second place followed by Scoil Mhuire National School in Monivea, Co Galway, designed by SJK architects, in third.

RKD architects received the fourth place award for Roe and Co Distillery – the former Guinness Power House – in Dublin 8. Buildings across Ireland and abroad were shortlisted for the award with projects in Cork, Dublin, Galway, Tyrone, London and France considered for the prize.

An RIAI statement said the public choice award helped build awareness of the “important role that architecture plays in delivering Ireland’s societal and economic infrastructure”.

Roe and Co Distillery. Designed by RKD architects, at the former Guinness Power House in Dublin 8.

 Roe and Co Distillery. Designed by RKD architects, at the former Guinness Power House in Dublin 8.

The RIAI distributes architecture awards across a range of categories including sustainability, cultural/public buildings, learning environments, public spaces, urban design and innovation. The full list of award winners will be announced in the autumn.

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Meet The Style Influencer Changing Fashion For People With Disabilities

Beating the Odds profiles people who despite their physical and health challenges, have pushed on to pursue their dreams and accomplish some incredible things. 

Lauren “Lolo” Spencer, was diagnosed with Lou Gehrig’s disease, otherwise known as ALS, when she was 14 years old.

But the initials describing her condition are not how she describes herself. Instead, she uses adjectives like “authentic,” “fearless,” “passionate” and “appreciative.”

“I had made the decision a long time ago to not let my disability overcome anything that I’ve ever wanted to do or pursue in my life,” Spencer told In The Know.

And she’s stuck to that decision. Spencer is now a model, actress, style influencer and public speaker who sees her disability as an honor, not a hindrance.

“I figure if the good Lord put it on your life to have a disability, then that means he knows you can handle it and you can thrive,” Spencer told In The Know.

Spencer is definitely thriving. She’s appeared in award-winning films, developed a major social media following and even attended New York Fashion Week. Now, she’s focused on making sure people see her for what she’s done, not the disability she was diagnosed with.

“Are people gonna accept that I am a talent with a disability, and [that I] will be treated as just talent?” Spencer asked In The Know. “Because that is the goal — to see people with disabilities as people first.”

4 feel-good movies to stream while social distancing

If you liked this story, check out this previous episode of “Beating The Odds,” with ultramarathoner Amy Palmiero-Winters.

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Watch The D&AD Awards And Festival On Adobe Live

As we reported last month, Adobe has recently launched a series of live shows from the UK – “a daily dose of creativity” – as part of its Adobe Live service. But while that’s exciting enough, turns out that was just the start.

This summer there’ll be even more inspiration for creatives to enjoy, as Adobe teams up with D&AD, the global association for creative advertising and design. As a result of the new partnership with this global organisation, Adobe Live’s livestreams will now also include the D&AD Awards 2020 and the D&AD Festival keynotes.

We’re not just talking about awards announcements either. Adobe Presents: D&AD Awards will feature a series of in-depth panel discussions and live Q&A interviews with the D&AD judges, as well as behind-the-work live talks with winners, to explore the components of creative brilliance, uncover why the winning work was awarded, and reveal how it was made.

In addition, ‘Adobe Presents: D&AD Imagine Everything’ will see creative innovators take to Adobe Live to present their D&AD Festival keynotes, including speakers from NASA, Headspace and MoMA. This means everyone at home will be able to enjoy this inspirational series of talks, aimed at driving forward creative thinking, for free.

Want to be the first to know when the livestreams will launch? Subscribe to Adobe Live for free now. You’ll also be able to catch on-demand recordings of every session and keep up to date with all the latest Adobe programmes on the horizon, including its popular ‘Live from the Sofa’ series.

Adobe’s focus on online events to support its communities and customers follows the recent announcement that Adobe MAX, the world’s largest creativity conference, will for the first time be a fully digital experience, available to everyone for free.

The recent success of Adobe’s virtual Summit and its digital content activity, which attracted more than 450,000 attendees across the world, has underlined the strong demand for this kind of high-quality, digital content.

“At Adobe, we’re passionate about enabling creativity for all, and through our partnership with D&AD, are delighted to celebrate some of today’s best creative minds,” says Simon Morris, senior director of marketing at Adobe. “Times like these show us the power of creativity, its impact on the way we think and live. We’re incredibly proud to have a hugely active creative community on Adobe Live, and can’t wait to use this platform to inspire and engage them even further.”

Tim Linsday, D&AD Chairman, commented: “Each year, the foremost thinkers and practitioners from across the global creative industries submit outstanding work to D&AD Awards. 2020 is no exception, despite the extremely difficult situation the world is facing. Our exciting lineup of insight sessions, Q&As and ‘Behind the Work’ series will continue to give exceptional creative thinking the platform it deserves.”

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Museums Embrace Art Therapy Techniques For Unsettled Times

That museums are taking art therapy more seriously than ever is due in large part to a program at the Montreal Museum of Fine Arts that allows physicians to prescribe free access to its galleries. The museum was also one of the first in North America to hire a full-time art therapist in 2017.

Stephen Legari, who took the job, normally sees about 1,200 participants each year, but demands for his services have increased as Montreal — the epicenter of Canada’s coronavirus outbreak — reopens. “In quarantine, you’re looking at the same things in your apartment every day,” he explained. “The repetition is grinding down your capacity to concentrate. By contrast, museums are places for wonderment, beauty and awe.”

Katerine Caron joined the art therapy program about three years ago. For much of her life, the 52-year-old writer has dealt with neurological damage and severe trauma after being hit by a speeding car while walking her children across the street. She eagerly awaits Wednesday group sessions. “I hadn’t created art since I was a child,” Ms. Caron said, “but art therapy has helped me externalize what I’m feeling and express my gratitude for life.”

For her, the therapy has created a space outside the pandemic for her to process difficult emotions. “I’m less anxious and agitated,” she said, adding, “When I see the works of other artists, I know that I’m not alone.”

When sorting through the museum’s collection for inspiration recently, Mr. Legari has shied away from contemporary works. Instead, he is drawn to images of natural beauty rendered by the Romantics and Impressionists. He also likes to incorporate more abstract works by artists like Henri Matisse and Georges Braque into his sessions.

Looking at what Montreal has accomplished, Sally Tallant, executive director of the Queens Museum, hopes that her institution can replicate that same sense of refuge for people. In the meantime, the museum’s educators are testing out a variety of initiatives. There are weekly conversations with homebound seniors about the institution’s collection, a program for caregivers to learn about art, and several live-video artmaking sessions for recent immigrants who don’t speak English, which are also offered in Mandarin.

“This is a time to consider museums as places of care,” Ms. Tallant said. “There is a need to develop porous cultural institutions that are open, inclusive and empathetic as we recover from living through a prolonged period of isolation and loss.”

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Westchester Interior Designer Cites Growing Demand For Multi-Functional Living Spaces

As New York and Connecticut reopen for business and companies prepare for a return to the workplace, many residents are taking a fresh look at their “home” offices and weighing their options for living in a post-pandemic world.

“People are starting to consider their homes as multi-functional spaces,” said Denise Balassi, owner of Spaces of Distinction, an award-winning interior design firm in South Salem. “Can the spare bedroom second as a gym? Can the dining room double as a home office? Can the kitchen be transformed into more of classroom for the kids?”

This “multi-living” style also involves a new perspective on the uses of outdoor space – think Zooming on your veranda – as well as incorporating new safety modes into home designs. “We just received a request for mudrooms that allow people to sanitize themselves,” said Balassi, whose firm is celebrating its 25th year in business. “The pandemic has really prompted people to rethink their homes.”

It also has prompted New York City dwellers to consider heading north and as many people flee Manhattan for more open space in the suburbs, they are going to either buy, build or renovate – and they are going to need local talent. This presents opportunities for designers to be even more creative and fits in perfectly with Spaces of Distinction’s unique approach. “Interior design is about people, lifestyle and the functionality of living space,” Balassi said.

The iconic design firm, formerly Interior Consultants, recently unveiled a new name – Spaces of Distinction by Denise Balassi – to reflect its evolution into a new breed of interior designers. The firm, which specializes in luxury homes, boutique hotels and vacation properties for clients locally and nationwide, is marking its 25th anniversary milestone with its own redesign.

Established in 1995, the firm takes an integrated approach to meet clients’ goals and visions of their ultimate “dream home.” Technological advancements, new tools and techniques, easier access to information and changes in consumer mindsets all have contributed to an evolution of interior design. Sophisticated clients know what they want, and Spaces of Distinction knows how best to fulfill the demand. The tech-savvy team uses the latest CAD and 3D modeling software and is exceptionally skilled at space planning, architectural detailing and interior design, from creating initial floor plans to placing the last decorative detail. Using a team-centric method that includes the homeowner, designer, builder and architect, Spaces of Distinction provides efficient and cost-effective results. This comprehensive design technique offers a precise course of action, guiding clients through a seamless process from design concept to project completion.

“We are thrilled with our reinvention,” said Balassi. “We selected this brand to capture the essence of what we do. We are more than consultants and decorators – we are designers and creators, who offer our clients a timeless home environment.”

About Spaces of Distinction by Denise BalassiSouth Salem-N.Y.-based Spaces of Distinction is a multifaceted design firm specializing in high-end, luxury residential and hospitality design. The firm serves clients throughout the tri-state region and also nationwide.

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Congress Flying Blind: Why Now Is The Time To Revive The Office Of Technology Assessment

Last Sunday, the Trump administration delivered its COVID-19 testing strategy to Congress. The policy, which delegates most responsibility to the states, claims that “existing testing capacity, if properly targeted, is sufficient to contain the outbreak.”

Various experts disagree. Last month, for example, a study released by Harvard University pegged the daily testing need at ten times what the administration recommends — a conclusion that differs by a startling order of magnitude.

So, to whom should Congress listen? Or at the very least, what questions should Congress ask to evaluate such significantly different claims?

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In 1995, Congress defunded its Office of Technology Assessment: an internal team of science and technology experts that aided members and their staff in moments precisely like these. Exclusively in service of Congress, OTA helped the institution to navigate technically complex domains, from nuclear power and bioterrorism to, as it happens, influenza pandemics. OTA gave Congress its own source of internal expertise, helping it to sort through the many competing claims made by industry, academia and the executive branch — and to push back when appropriate.

When the Carter administration proposed a novel basing scheme for nuclear missiles, Congress turned to OTA, which found significant risks and uncertainties with the plan. When the Reagan administration declared AIDS its top health priority, OTA found that it was behaving much to the contrary, neglecting to use funds appropriated for public health emergencies. OTA, free of executive influence and captive only to Congress, equipped lawmakers with smart analysis to question executive branch policies. The result was more informed congressional debate and a check on executive power.

Perhaps now more than ever, Congress requires its own experts.

At a high-profile Senate health committee hearing this May, Congress heard exclusively from a panel of executive branch officials on issues urgent to its lawmaking, from economic recovery to vaccine development; both Democratic and Republican senators voiced frustration with potentially misleading witness claims. Tightening access to information, the White House notified Congress that all members of its Coronavirus Task Force would be barred from testifying absent permission from the president’s chief of staff. Now, with historically low staff capacity, Congress will be responsible for wading through the administration’s latest report, making sense of dizzying epidemiological models on its own.

Each administration, regardless of party, has a habit of fitting science to its priorities. Overreliance on any executive, then, weakens Congress’s policymaking capabilities. Congress should be equipped to do its own math. Momentum has long been building for lawmakers to bring in the nerds, as one group put it, and various options exist for designing a modernized OTA. No matter the new form, any body of experts in exclusive service to Congress will mark needed progress in rebalancing our titled branches.

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Congress has been at this crossroads before. As the executive branch ballooned in the postwar period, it amassed an army of experts. Congress, meanwhile, did not. This left the legislature–an ostensibly co-equal branch–at the mercy of executive claims. By the 1960s, the executive was negotiating complex arms control treaties with the Soviet Union; promoting controversial supersonic transport investments; and developing novel regulations in response to pollution.

In 1972, Rep. Charles Mosher (R-Ohio) complained that Congress was “flying blind… constantly outmanned and outgunned by the expertise of the executive agencies,” and called for experts “entirely responsible to us.” Soon after, Congress authorized an Office of Technology Assessment.

Congress is once again outmanned and outgunned. But it has rearmed itself before, and it can do it again.

Grant Tudor, a Policy Advocate at Protect Democracy, and Justin Warner, a Senior Policy Analyst at the Federal Reserve Board, are the authors of “The Congressional Futures Office: A Modern Model for Science & Technology Expertise in Congress,” a report from the Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs at Harvard University.

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Major Housing, Commercial Uses Get OK At Long-closed 500 Blake Street Cafe Property In New Haven

500 Blake Street Cafe, a popular upscale restaurant and wedding reception venue, closed in 2006 in New Haven’s Westville neighborhood. The property remains vacant.

500 Blake Street Cafe, a popular upscale restaurant and wedding reception venue, closed in 2006 in New Haven’s Westville neighborhood. The property remains vacant.Photo: Hearst Connecticut Media File

Photo: Hearst Connecticut Media File

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500 Blake Street Cafe, a popular upscale restaurant and wedding reception venue, closed in 2006 in New Haven’s Westville neighborhood. The property remains vacant.

500 Blake Street Cafe, a popular upscale restaurant and wedding reception venue, closed in 2006 in New Haven’s Westville neighborhood. The property remains vacant.Photo: Hearst Connecticut Media File

Major housing, commercial uses get OK at long-closed 500 Blake Street Cafe property in New Haven

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NEW HAVEN — It looked like all of Westville had shown up — virtually, of course.

A dense housing and commercial development project with views of West Rock won over traffic concerns when some 75 people came to a Zoom meeting of the City Plan Commission, with approval of the transformation of the long-closed 500 Blake Street Cafe and large parking lot that has been dormant for almost two decades.

The site plan was approved unanimously by the commission that heard testimony for four hours on Ocean Management’s proposal for 129 units of housing and an improved public walkway along the West River, which was negotiated by City Plan staff.

Approval was contingent on submission of detailed traffic and sidewalk approvals by the city’s engineering office and Transportation, Traffic and Parking before building permits are issued, with special attention to the intersections of Blake and Valley streets and the site plan along Tour Avenue.

A special permit that also gave the commission more control over design elements in the village was approved 3 to 1, with commissioner Elias Estabrook voting against the look of the building along Tour Avenue with its metal clad facade he said did not fit in with the surrounding buildings.

Melissa Saint, who represented the owners, said they were trying to bring in a small, modern touch, such as Yale University does with some of its buildings, by using a mix of materials “in a sophisticated way.”

“In the big picture here, while we all may have … Different views of what kind of material should appear on this building, I think it is enough for the developer to consider, but I think if we start getting into whether or not this is going to ride on the materials on one portion of one building … We are going down a road I don’t think we want to go to,” said attorney Jim Segaloff, who represented the developer.

Commissioner Adam Marchand joined the 3 to 1 vote on the special permit even though he felt the proposed apartment buildings were somewhat out of scale with the surrounding village district structures. “I’m not 100 percent convinced that it fits in super neatly as some of the diagrams make it seem it does,” he said.

Marchand asked the developers “in refining the design to explore materials and techniques to reduce the visual impact of a building that is bigger than what is around it.”

He explained his vote to approve, rather than table, given the current situation with the country in partial lockdown over the coronavirus pandemic that has stalled the economy.

“I think that supporting development, and development happening soon, is absolutely essential policy for our city to pursue when we have an economy in a coma and we are trying to figure how to get our economy relaunched. I feel there are some tradeoffs here and for me the most important thing is the safety of pedestrians, but I just want to acknowledge that the design is still rather big,” Marchand said.

Saint said she hopes construction starts this summer with completion by early 2022.

The general opposition to the development came from residents of Tour Avenue who asked that the vote be put off for more discussion and review of the traffic plan and some tweaking of a design element, but even they were happy with the general intent of the project, the density and walkability.

The housing will be a mix of studio, one-bedroom, one-plus apartments that add some space, and two-bedroom apartments. The project also features more than 7,000 square feet of new commercial space.

Along Blake Street, according to the narrative accompanying the development, there will be a 3,900-square-foot restaurant, while closer to the West River, some 3,400 square feet of retail space will feature a small market in a public plaza with outdoor seating next to the existing boardwalk. In addition to the pedestrian walkway, there will be a bike path. Parking is available for around 120 cars.

Saint said they are looking to bring in more foot traffic that would support not only commercial space at the development, but existing businesses in Westville, as well. She said they will seek to add essential retail so residents will not have to drive someplace else for such things.

Patty O’Hanlon, who runs the Westville Community Nursery School on Tour Avenue, asked for a good faith discussion with the developers about residents’ traffic concerns. She said there are preschool-age children on that street and she is worried about their safety and particularly the egress onto Tour Avenue which she fears many will use, rather than Blake Street. She also asked for traffic calming efforts for the street.

Her concerns were echoed by Adam Lopiano, Muffy Prendergast and Thea Buxbaum, who favored tabling approval for more discussion.

On the other side, architect Keith Krolak said previous developments done in this area have left much to be desired. He said this one respects the scale and urban fabric of the neighborhood and provides connectivity with the current retail establishments.

Krolak said he feels the traffic issues can be solved with the right amount of engineering. He said the solution could be outside the site due to the traffic moving through here, rather than being part of the neighborhood, and it shouldn’t penalize a good development. “All indications are that this is going to be an excellent catalyst for the neighborhood,” Krolak said.

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Man Found Setting Fire In NYC Hallway; Body Discovered In Apartment Nearby: Police

Police responding to a call about criminal mischief at a Harlem building found an emotionally disturbed man in his 30s setting fire to a ninth-floor hallway, officials say. Once cops subdued him, they found a body in an open apartment.

The initial call to the building on 120th Street came in around 4:20 a.M. Saturday. The man was said to be combative with responding officers; they eventually managed to contain him. After cops did, they went into the apartment near where the man had been setting the fire, which was open.

Inside, police found another man dead. He had been stabbed. The relationship between the dead man and the emotionally disturbed man wasn’t clear. Neither has been identified.News

Top news stories in the tri-state area, in America and around the world

The emotionally disturbed man was taken to a hospital to be evaluated. He suffered smoke inhalation, as did the officers who subdued him amid the hallway fire. Those cops suffered minor other injuries but are expected to be OK.

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Trailblazing German Soccer Restart Faces Numerous Risks

DÜSSELDORF, Germany (AP) — When the German Bundesliga restarts on May 16 in empty stadiums, it will blaze a trail for other leagues shut down by the coronavirus.

The English Premier League, Serie A and La Liga will all be watching closely as the German competition faces risk factors which could lead to more disruption or another shutdown.

The German league says its plans minimize the risk from the virus. However, it’s aware it needs to remain alert to finish the season in June as planned.

“Every game day is a chance to prove that we deserve the next game day,” league CEO Christian Seifert said on Thursday.

INFECTIONS

The German restart plan is built around regular coronavirus testing for players and staff, with more than 20,000 samples needed just to finish the season in the top two divisions.

Twelve people, among them players and staff, have tested positive since tests began last week of the 36 clubs in those divisions. Some have subsequently tested negative in follow-ups.

League rules aim both to slash the risk of players getting infected, and to limit the possible spread. Players, and anyone living with them, are asked to limit travel outside the home. Players leave the team bus in masks, and there’s no pregame handshake.

But the plan has limits. Germany isn’t following South Korea’s K-League with a ban on spitting or close-quarters conversations on the field. And if players test positive, clubs don’t have to put the rest of the team in isolation.

Cologne player Birger Verstraete said he found it hard to focus on soccer when the club kept on training after two players and a physio tested positive last week. Contrast that with the K-League, which is imposing a two-week quarantine on any team with a positive test — and its recent opponents, too.

GOVERNMENT CRACKDOWNS

Even if the league’s plan works perfectly, the coronavirus could still affect games.

The same German government meeting on Wednesday which allowed the Bundesliga to resume also outlined a so-called “emergency brake” mechanism. That allows regional officials to reimpose tough lockdown restrictions in their area if there’s a major outbreak with more than 50 coronavirus cases per 100,000 people within a week.

It’s not yet fully clear how those fallback measures might affect training and games without fans.

PLAYER MISBEHAVIOR

Even after the league set down rules, not everyone followed them.

Salomon Kalou has barely played this season, but he’s affected the Bundesliga’s public image more than the likes of Robert Lewandowski and Erling Haaland.

The 34-year-old Hertha Berlin forward posted video online showing him flouting social distancing rules by shaking hands with a teammate and a staff member, and bursting in on a teammate’s coronavirus test.

Kalou apologized and was swiftly suspended, but he and the league’s plan came in for widespread criticism in Germany.

FAN GATHERINGS

Politicians and police are worried about fans turning up to games, even though they’re not allowed in. Games could be shut down in extreme cases.

Several hundred fans of Borussia Mönchengladbach gathered outside the stadium in March for the Bundesliga’s only game in an empty stadium so far. When the league resumes, it will be with security guards inside and outside the arenas.

With the fierce rivalry between Borussia Dortmund and Schalke scheduled for May 16, passions will run high on the opening weekend.

Bremen state interior minister Ulrich Mäurer suggested in March, before the league was suspended, that games in empty stadiums could have to be called off if fans gathered. The police union in the state of North Rhine-Westphalia has also raised concerns.

INJURY RISK

A two-month break means players have had to recover fitness in a similar way to preseason training. Being out of practice could mean more injuries.

Some states allowed teams to return to training earlier than others, potentially giving them an advantage.

Werder Bremen, which was slower to return, wanted the restart delayed until May 23, citing fairness and injury risks. It had to settle for its opening game being played on Monday, May 18, as the last of that weekend’s fixtures.

Some teams were still waiting on Thursday for permission to resume full training, rather than working in small groups. With more midweek games than usual, fixture congestion could also pose fitness problems.

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