Chelsea fans will have to show proof of Covid jabs to go to matches

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<span>Photograph: Glyn Kirk - Pool/Getty Images</span>
Photograph: Glyn Kirk - Pool/Getty Images

Football fans attending Chelsea FC’s home matches this season will have to provide proof of being fully vaccinated or show a negative Covid test, the club has announced.

The requirement will come into force as soon as 4 August, with the checks in place for the men’s team’s friendly game against Tottenham at Stamford Bridge.

Fans will have to prove they had their second dose at least 14 days before the match to count as fully vaccinated, while proof of a negative lateral flow test carried out within 48 hours of kick-off time will also be accepted.

“This is to increase the safety and comfort of our supporters, players and staff as we begin hosting capacity crowds for the first time since March last year,” the Premier League club said.

Chelsea says the requirement will ensure no one who is at high risk of passing on Covid will be able to enter either Stamford Bridge or Kingsmeadow, home of the women’s team. Stewards will check fans’ status before they enter the stadiums.

Fans can prove their vaccination status through using the NHS Covid Pass on the NHS app or with a vaccination letter, while supporters with a negative test result should do so on the NHS app, or via a text message or email from NHS test and trace.

The move follows reports that the government is in talks with the Premier League over proposals to introduce a vaccination requirement for matches. It is being discussed whether vaccine passports could be introduced for seated events with a capacity of 20,000 people and over, although no final decision has been made.

The Guardian contacted Premier League clubs about whether they will be following Chelsea’s lead in introducing a vaccine or testing requirement for fans at their home games.

A spokesperson for Manchester United said the club was “still in discussions with the Premier League regarding any changes to our Covid protocol”, adding that “any decisions made will be communicate to fans in due course”.

The Cabinet Office minister, Michael Gove, has said domestic Covid passports are “the right way to go” for some venues so “people can be confident that those who are attending those events are less likely to be carriers of the virus”, specifically referring to Premier League football matches.

He said that if businesses “required a certain level of safety” from customers, then people who refuse to get vaccinated should not be surprised if they are “barred” – accusing them of “putting other people’s health and lives at risk” and calling them “selfish”.

The use of vaccine passports could also be rolled out to football’s lower leagues as well as other sports in England in an attempt to reduce the spread of the virus following the end of restrictions.

The government is likely to face a rebellion over introducing vaccine passports for nightclubs from the backbenches, with Conservative MPs saying more than 40 Tories were prepared to defy the prime minister over civil liberties concerns.

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