Fans at darts’ World Matchplay in Blackpool will not need to provide proof of full vaccination or a negative test to gain entry due to the “short time frame” between the Government updating its guidance on Covid certification and the event starting, organisers have said.
The tournament, which starts at the city’s Winter Gardens on Saturday, is the first major indoor sports event to benefit from the lifting of almost all legal restrictions related to coronavirus in England from Monday.
The Professional Darts Corporation (PDC) has previously confirmed that a capacity crowd of just under 2,000 per session will be possible from Monday through to the event’s conclusion on Sunday, July 25. For this weekend, the capacity limit is 803 per session.
The PDC said as recently as July 7 that there would be no requirement for spectators to certify their Covid status, which followed the Government announcing on July 5 that Covid certification would not be mandatory and would be at an event organiser’s discretion.
At the start of this week the Government appeared to take a stronger line, with Prime Minister Boris Johnson saying: “As a matter of social responsibility we’re urging nightclubs and other venues with large crowds to make use of the NHS Covid pass, which shows proof of vaccination, a recent negative test or natural immunity as a means of entry.”
However, the PDC says it has not had enough time to react to the change in guidance and will proceed without the so-called ‘vaccine passports’ for this tournament.
“Due to the short time frame between the updated Government guidance being announced and the event starting, we will not be requiring spectators to provide proof of vaccination or a lateral flow negative test result in order to gain admission to the event,” PDC head of media Dave Allen told the PA news agency.
“However, all attendees are required to complete an online health screening form in advance and undergo a temperature check on arrival.”
The screening form will ask spectators to answer questions about whether they or any close contacts have tested positive for Covid or if they are experiencing Covid symptoms.
The PDC had also said on July 7 it “did not expect” fans to need to wear a face covering at all inside the venue if they chose not to, but again a tougher line from Government this week has prompted a change in approach.
“Fans will have to wear a face mask when moving around the venue which can be removed when seated, and social distancing will be encouraged in all public areas,” Allen added.
It is understood that people will only be asked rather than forced to wear one, and those who do not will not be ejected.
The PDC intends to reintroduce the usual venue layout and player walk-ons, with Allen saying last week that “in many ways it will look like 2019”.
Face coverings will be recommended at English race meetings from July 19, particularly in enclosed and crowded areas, the British Horseracing Association (BHA) has said.
Beverley, Cartmel and Windsor are due to host meetings on Monday.
The Racecourse Association said earlier this week that racecourses would not introduce Covid certification at this stage, but that it and the BHA were working with the Department of Digital, Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS) to develop the detailed operational guidance needed to safely introduce certification.