Spectators are expected to return to sports venues from next Monday

Sports venues across England will be able to welcome spectators again from next Monday, the Prime Minister confirmed.

Boris Johnson told a press conference on Monday afternoon that the government was continuing with its plan to take the third step of its coronavirus recovery roadmap, first drawn up on February 22.

“We will unlock the turnstiles at our sports stadiums subject to capacity limits,” Johnson said in his opening speech, as he detailed the further easing of the lockdown in England.

Spectators are expected to be back at sports venues from next Monday (Adam Davy / PA)

This means that larger outdoor venues will be able to admit up to 10,000 spectators from next week.

The Premier League has pushed back its penultimate round of matches to May 18 and 19 so that each club can play a game in front of supporters before the season ends on May 23.

The league confirmed last week that the matches will be open to home fans only.

Premier League chief executive Richard Masters said: “It will be great to see the fans again. We missed them dearly and the Premier League was not the same without them. Their presence will ensure a fantastic finale at the end of our season.

“Although only a small number of home fans will attend our matches next week, this is an important step in our return to normalcy.

“We will continue to work with the government and other authorities as our priority is to have venues full of life – including away fans – from the start of next season. Only then will we return to the real Premier League.

For small outdoor sites, capacities will be capped at 4000 or 50%, whichever is lower. The ceiling for indoor venues will be 1,000 or 50%, whichever is lower.

The decision to ease restrictions comes as the country continues to benefit from an accelerating vaccination program and a drop in Covid-19-related deaths and hospitalizations.

The government hopes to allow venues to admit significantly higher numbers of spectators from June 21, and it has set up an Events Research Program (ERP) to test different security measures in a series of events. sporting and cultural “pilot” events in order to achieve this.

The first ERP sporting event with spectators in attendance this year was the first day of the World Snooker Championship on April 17, with the crowd increasing at the Crucible Theater in Sheffield as the tournament progressed, culminating with a full house for the final on May 2 and 3.

Prince William set to present the FA Cup to the winners of this weekend's final (Nick Potts / PA)
Prince William set to present the FA Cup to the winners of this weekend’s final (Nick Potts / PA)

The FA Cup semi-final between Leicester and Southampton at Wembley on April 18 was the first outdoor sporting event to welcome spectators again, although it was limited to residents and key workers living locally in the Stadium.

The following weekend’s Carabao Cup final was the first outdoor event that fans of the clubs involved attended. Manchester City and Tottenham were each able to offer tickets to 2,000 supporters.

So far there have been no major glitches in the ERP, which continues on Saturday as 21,000 people are due to make it to the FA Cup final between Chelsea and Leicester at Wembley, where Prince William should be present to present the trophy to the winners. It was confirmed on Monday that the Duke of Cambridge and the FA president will attend the game.

The government’s announcement is a key milestone for clubs and associations that rely on spectators attending live events for a large portion of their income.

Before the ERP, the last time spectators attended live sporting events was in December 2020, when crowds were allowed in levels one and two of the government’s regional approach to tackling the pandemic. that was in place at the time.

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