Fans set for return to sporting venues in England with no Covid restrictions

·2-min read
<span>Photograph: Justin Tallis/AP</span>
Photograph: Justin Tallis/AP

Fans are to be allowed to return to watch live sport in England without any restrictions from 19 July after the prime minister, Boris Johnson, announced his intention to end social distancing rules.

Providing there is no last minute change of heart, the government will confirm next week that Step 4 in the easing of Covid measures will come into effect from the middle of this month.

Related: Wimbledon finals to allow full crowd capacity with 45,000 at Euro 2020 final

Among the proposed changes include an end to limits on crowd capacity at live events and the scrapping of the 1m+ social distancing rule.

These two rule changes will prove crucial for live sport, allowing supporters to return to stadia, race tracks and even indoor spaces like snooker halls, just as they did before the pandemic began in March 2020.

The government has also chosen not to pursue a plan to mandate Covid vaccine certificates, such as those that are currently being used on a trial basis to secure entry to Wimbledon and matches at Wembley in Euro 2020.

Several organisers of sporting competitions, including the Premier League, are understood to have been supportive of certificates.

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Asked if he had concerns that the remaining Euro 2020 fixtures at Wembley, before the easing of restrictions, could increase transmission of Covid, the prime minister said: “My advice to everybody would be to support England enthusiastically but in a responsible way. The events at Wembley clearly have conditions attached to them that we will insist on.”

The sports that will benefit immediately from the rule changes on 19 July include horse racing and rugby league. But there will also be full crowds in time for the start of the football season, with the EFL season due to start on 7 August and the Premier League a week later.

David Armstrong, the RCA’s chief executive, said: “It has been 476 days since British racecourses were able to welcome racegoers without restriction. Clearly this has been a difficult time for racecourses on both a commercial level, we estimate the pandemic has cost racecourses £400m, and a human level – we have deeply missed the atmosphere and presence of racegoers.

“The clarity provided by today’s Government announcement is wonderful news for racecourses in England and we will continue to work closely with our industry partners and the devolved Governments for an update from Wales and Scotland.”

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