United Kingdom

Fans WILL be allowed back to stadiums after Boris Johnson confirms plans to 'unlock the turnstiles'

Sporting venues across England will be able to welcome back spectators from next Monday, the Prime Minister has confirmed.

Boris Johnson said at a press conference on Monday afternoon that the Government was proceeding with its plan to take the third step in its coronavirus recovery road map, first set out on February 22.

'We'll unlock the turnstiles of our sports stadia subject to capacity limits,' Johnson said in his opening speech, as he detailed the further easing of lockdown in England.

Fans will be allowed back to stadiums from next Monday as part of the exit plan from lockdown

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

The Premier League pushed its penultimate round of matches back to May 18 and 19 so that every club would be able to play one game in front of supporters before the end of the season on May 23.

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

Premier League chief executive Richard Masters said: 'It will be brilliant to see fans back. They have been hugely missed and the Premier League has not been the same without them. Their presence will ensure a fantastic finale to the end of our season.

'Although only a small number of home fans will be at our matches next week, this is an important step in our return to normality.

Prime Minister Boris Johnson confirmed on Monday that venues could host up to 10,000 fans

'We will continue to work with the Government and other authorities as our priority is to have full vibrant stadiums - including away supporters - from the start of next season. Only then will we get back to the real Premier League.'

For smaller outdoor venues capacities will be capped at 4,000 or 50 per cent, whichever is the lowest. The indoor venue cap will be 1,000 or 50 per cent, whichever is lower.

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

The Government hopes to allow venues to admit significantly higher numbers of spectators from June 21 onwards and it has set up an events research programme (ERP) to test out different safety measures at a range of sporting and cultural 'pilot' events in order to achieve that. 

The first ERP sports event with spectators in attendance this year was day one of the World Snooker Championship on April 17, with crowds at the Crucible Theatre in Sheffield being increased as the tournament progressed, culminating in a full house for the final on May 2 and 3.

Last month's Carabao Cup final saw 4,000 fans attend Wembley as part of a pilot scheme

The FA Cup semi-final between Leicester and Southampton at Wembley on April 18 was the first outdoor sports event to welcome back spectators, though it was limited to residents and key workers living locally to the stadium.

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

There have been no major hiccups in the ERP so far, which continues on Saturday when 21,000 people are due to go to the FA Cup final between Chelsea and Leicester at Wembley, where Prince William is set to be on hand to present the trophy to the winners.

It was confirmed on Monday that the Duke of Cambridge and FA president will attend the game.

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