Premier League fans can return to football matches in December - but what will it be like?
Football fans can look forward to watching some live action again next month, as sports venues will be allowed to welcome back spectators.
Prime Minister Boris Johnson has outlined plans for sporting events to resume after the national lockdown comes to an end on 2 December, and England returns to a new regional three tiered system of local restrictions.
Covid-19 restrictions will be eased from 2 December in areas of England with lower infection rates, meaning some fans will be allowed into sports events from next month.
Mr Johnson said that both indoor and outdoor venues in Tier 1 and Tier 2 areas will be allowed to admit spectators on a limited basis.
Outdoor venues in Tier 1 areas (which will include parts of England considered lowest risk based on current infection rates) will be permitted to admit up to 4,000 spectators to an event, or allow 50 per cent capacity - whichever is lower.
The maximum number for indoor venues in this tier will be 2,000 spectators, or 50 per cent capacity.
Outdoor venues in Tier 2 areas, which are at slightly higher risk, will be permitted to admit up to 2,000 spectators, or 50 per cent capacity - again, whichever is lower.
The maximum number for indoor venues in this tier will be 1,000 spectators, or 50 per cent capacity.
Areas that are placed into Tier 3 will not be allowed to admit any spectators.
Announcing the change to rules in the House of Commons, Mr Johnson said, “Spectator sports and business events will be free to resume inside or outside with capacity limits and social distancing, providing more consistency with indoor performances in theatres and concert halls.”
Premier League rules
The Premier League is expected to introduce a strict set of rules for the return of football fans next month, which all spectators will have to adhere to.
While official rules have yet to be confirmed, reports have suggested that there will be a ban on drinking alcohol, singing, and shouting during games. Spectators will have to agree to follow the rules before purchasing tickets to venues, and there will be repercussions for those who fail to comply.
It is expected that fans will have to stagger their arrival and exit times into grounds to avoid overcrowding, and allow for social distancing.
Signs reminding spectators to wash their hands and keep apart will also be placed around the grounds and facilities.
Face coverings will be required to be worn at all times and bottles of hand gel no bigger than 50ml will be permitted inside.
Spectators will also be encouraged to travel safely, avoiding busy public transport routes as much as possible.
Additionally, football clubs should accept card payments only inside grounds, and operate a digital entry system.
In a statement, the English Football League said, “Our ambition remains to work with the government to increase attendance to more substantial levels. Until this can be done, many fans will be unable to attend games and our clubs will continue to operate matches at a financial loss.
“Out priority continues to be the agreement of a roadmap, with DCMS (Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport) and the Sports Technology and Innovation Group, for pilot events that can help our clubs quickly scale up to larger capacities in line with the Sports Ground Safety Authority’s Covid-secure guidelines and beyond.
“Premier League clubs have a proven track record of achieving high-biosecurity standards and we believe we can play a significant role in the government’s rapid turnaround testing initiative.”