UK governing bodies support Covid certification plan to allow full venues
UK sports bodies have given their backing to the government’s Covid certification programme aimed at ensuring a return to full venues in the second half of June.
As coronavirus cases fall, sporting events are set to admit spectators from 17 May, but with attendances limited to 25 per cent of capacity.
In order to enable full venues, the UK government has proposed certificates for fans which would gain them entry by proving that they had been vaccinated, recently tested negative or had natural immunity having already had the virus in the previous six months.
The current roadmap for the lifting of Covid-19 restrictions anticipates a full return of fans from 21 June.
In an open letter to UK political party leaders, including prime minister Boris Johnson, a group of governing bodies, among them English soccer’s Football Association and Premier League, England’s Rugby Football Union and the England and Wales Cricket Board, welcomed the government initiative.
It said: “The return of fans will give a huge boost to millions who enjoy a day out at a sporting event with their friends and families and be of great benefit to the economy. It is right that every possible action is considered to secure this outcome as soon as possible, but only for as long as an unrestricted return is considered unsafe to fans, matchday staff and the wider public.”
“This includes investigating how a Covid certification arrangement could reduce and then safely remove the requirement for social distancing. There are many issues to be addressed including how the technology would work and its ease of use at major events, for both the attendees and the organisers.
“All of our sports can see the benefit that a Covid certification process offers in getting more fans safely back to their sport as quickly as possible. We know that our stadia can only be fully filled with an assurance process.”
Forthcoming test events, with limited numbers of spectators, will include soccer’s FA Cup semi-finals and Carabao Cup at Wembley Stadium in London.
In a response to the letter, the UK government said: “We welcome the constructive approach from major British sports as we explore how testing Covid certification and other steps can help get more fans back into stadiums and other large events safely. We want as many fans as possible to be able to enjoy a great British summer of sport, safely.”
It emerged yesterday that the FA had informed Uefa that it can guarantee 22,500 spectators at Wembley for group matches at this year’s European Championships, which run from 11 June to 11 July.
European soccer’s governing body has been seeking assurances from the 12 host cities across the continent that fans will be able to attend games, with some, notably Bilbao and Dublin, at risk of losing their fixtures if that is not the case.
The FA is said to be hopeful that Wembley can be at 50 per cent capacity, with 45,000 spectators, for the semi-finals and final at the venue.