Some major sporting events exempt from strict capacity limits despite the delay in the roadmap


Some major events in the English sporting summer are expected to be exempt from strict capacity limits despite the government’s decision to delay the easing of all remaining restrictions on coronaviruses.

Sports venues across England were hoping to open their doors to spectators in financially viable numbers from next Monday, June 21, but a decision has been made to delay the final leg of the recovery roadmap for at least four weeks. of Covid due to an increase in cases related to the Delta variant of the virus.

However, the PA News Agency understands that between 10 and 15 sporting and cultural events over the next four weeks should be included in the government’s Extended Events Research Program (ERP) and therefore be exempt from the strict limits of capacity that came into effect at stage three of the roadmap on May 17.

England fans in the team’s Euro 2020 opening game against Croatia on Sunday

(PA wire)

England’s group matches at Euro 2020 had already achieved ERP status and will continue to be played in front of a crowd of 22,500 – 25% of capacity at Wembley – and it is understood that hope is reach at least 50% of the capacity. for any of the last 16 games at Wembley, plus the semi-finals and the final.

The extended ERP will cover a mix of events and run up to full capacity in some cases, although it remains to be seen whether this is allowed for the Euro 2020 final on July 11.

The British Championships at Wimbledon, which start on June 28, and the British Formula 1 Grand Prix on the weekend of July 16-18 are two other major sporting events reportedly under consideration for status. test event.

For events that are not part of the ERP, the rules will remain as they are since May 17th and will remain in place until July 19th at the earliest.

Lewis Hamilton supporters pictured at 2019 British Grand Prix at Silverstone

(AP Archives)

For outdoor venues with a capacity of 16,000 seats or more, the limit is 10,000 or 25% of the capacity, whichever is less.

For outdoor sites with less seating than that, the limit is 4000 or 50% of capacity, whichever is lower. For indoor sites, the limit is 1000 or 50% capacity, whichever is lower.

This will put additional pressure on match day revenue for many sports clubs and governing bodies, a source of revenue that has been virtually non-existent during the coronavirus pandemic and something the government has recognized in its sports survival packages. winter and summer.

While the step three restrictions are based solely on social distancing, test events are expected to continue to examine other mitigation measures.

Euro 2020 group matches, for example, require ticket holders to provide proof of full vaccination or a recent negative Covid-19 test result.

A number of sports bodies have supported the idea of ​​some form of Covid certification for entry to events, with Premier League executive director Bill Bush describing it in the past as an “acceptable burden” and claiming the alternative would be small crowds and a ban on fans outside.

Its general manager Richard Masters is hoping the 2021-22 Premier League season will start in front of venues at full capacity in mid-August.

Wimbledon will announce spectator capacity and Covid protocols for the championships on Wednesday.

A statement from the organizers ahead of the tournament, which begins June 28, said: “We are continuing to work with the government and public health authorities on the final scenario for the event.

“On Wednesday June 16, the AELTC will provide an update on the final decisions for this year, including ticketing capabilities, all spectator requirements such as Covid status certification and cash prizes, with tickets likely to be put on sale in the following days. . “

Silverstone bosses have held preliminary talks with the government on an exemption to host the British Grand Prix next month in front of a crowd of 140,000.

An exemption for the Formula 1 race is under discussion, which would allow a number significantly higher than the 10,000 spectators currently allowed.

Open organizers also expect to be able to finalize fan numbers shortly.

“We would like to reassure fans that we will soon be able to confirm our arrangements for the 149th Open to be held at Royal St George’s from July 11-18,” read a statement from the R&A.

“We are in active discussions with the UK government and public health authorities regarding the championship capacity levels and hope to provide a definitive update to all ticket holders and hotel guests in the coming days. We would like to thank all the fans for their patience and support. “

The Rugby League Challenge Cup final on July 17 could also be among the pilot events, with the Rugby Football League also in talks with the government.

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