The UK government has delivered a breakthrough for sports fans by announcing that limited numbers will be able to attend live events from December 2.
Despite a number of successful test events, UK sports fans were facing the prospect of not being able to return to stadia until March 2021, when the government delivered a blanket ban back in September. However, after much outcry at the decision, especially as theater and arts venues have allowed numbers back into buildings, UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson has reversed the decision to allow fans back to professional and grassroots sport, but with a number of Covid caveats.
Firstly, the venues will come under the jurisdiction of which Covid restriction Tier each stadium sits within.
For venues in Tier 1 areas, outdoor stadia can host 50% capacity to a maximum of 4,000 spectators in the venue, but 1,000 for indoor venues. For Tier 2 outdoor stadia can have a 50% capacity but to a maximum of 2,000, and 1,000 indoors. For Tier 3 no fans will be allowed into the venue however it will offer a drive-in option if possible for sports such as horse or motor racing.
Culture Secretary Oliver Dowden said: “This is a big step forward for sport. Bringing grassroots sport back was my number one priority so I’m pleased we are reopening sports and gyms in every tier, in recognition of the significant health benefits.
I’m also delighted we are able to get the turnstiles turning sooner than expected, taking a cautious approach and starting with the lowest risk areas first. I’m confident that sports will take every step to ensure their fans are safe, and fans will play their part and look out for each other until we can safely get everyone back in..”
Specific details were not revealed with regard to venue operation such as entry, pre or post-match gatherings, or food and beverage service. However, it is likely that each venue will operate timed ticket entry, mobile phone-based food ordering and collection, and socially-distanced seating blocks, as seen during the pre-season test events and also in the NFL where some teams are currently allowing limited numbers of fans into stadia.
Boris Johnson said that the specific Tier each club venue sits in will be announced later this week.