United Kingdom

The 21,000 fans allowed at the FA Cup Final will NOT have to show they have been vaccinated

Fans attending the FA Cup final will not need to produce a vaccine passport, just evidence they have received a negative test, Sportsmail can reveal.

It was expected that the 21,000 supporters who will attend the showpiece at Wembley on May 15, would have to produce a passport, which would confirm vaccination, immunity, or a negative test. 

However, it has emerged today that people attending pilot events, which form part of the government's Event Research Programme, including the FA Cup final will not require a vaccine passport, but just basic covid certification to show they have tested negative.

 Wembley is preparing to host an FA Cup semi final, the final and the Carabao Cup final as part of the government's Events Research Programme, which launches this month

New government guidance states: 'Entry will be subject to a negative test result. In practice this will work in much the same way that international travel has taken place in recent months - entry will be denied to those that cannot provide evidence of a negative test result.'

The document added: 'There will be no requirement for participants to show proof of vaccine. Participants in the ERP pilots published to date will have to provide a basic covid certification that they have tested negative for Covid-19.'

Ministers plan to explore different approaches, including testing on entry to events, ventilation, removing social distancing and face masks combined with testing, to explore what works best to allow the safe return of large numbers of spectators.

The pilots will include the FA Cup semi final and final at Wembley Stadium, the Carabao Cup final, also at Wembley, the World Snooker Championship in Sheffield, a mass participation run at Hatfield House in Hertfordshire, and several events in Liverpool including, a business conference and a cinema screening in the city.

Prime Minister Boris Johnson said he would look at all possibilities to reopen public life

Fans attending the football events will have to test for covid before and after the matches, in order to monitor any spread of the virus.

While the FA Cup semi final this weekend between Southampton and Leicester City  and Carabao Cup final on April 25 between Tottenham Hotspur and Manchester City, were not due to involve the use of covid passports, plans for the FA Cup final were expected to include the controversial passes.

This was seen as an important step in ramping up attendances ahead of Euro 2020, which begins on June 11 in Rome, with the first game scheduled for Wembley on June 13, when England play Croatia.

There is also an extensive summer of sport, which features a raft of international cricket, Wimbledon and the British Grand Prix, to mention just a few. Looking ahead, the Premier League and EFL are desperate for the return of capacity crowds ahead of next season after more than a year with almost no fans. 

Government's roadmap out of lockdown has created chance of large crowds at sports events

Prime Minister Boris Johnson's roadmap out of lockdown, includes a stepped approach to greater freedoms.

He has highlighted June 21 as the earliest date from which all social distancing can be removed, subject to various conditions, including the continued rapid roll-out of vaccines, limited spread and serious illness and the absence of dangerous variants of the virus.

However, the EFL, Premier League and FA, among a host of other major sports, came out firmly in favour of covid passports last week in order to turn the aspiration of full attendance after June 21, into a reality.

Ten sports bodies, including, football, motor sport, tennis, cricket and rugby have written a joint letter to the country's political leaders to press the case for covid passports, pointing out it is the only way to return to capacity crowds.

The Premier League followed that up by painting a bleak picture of what football will be like for fans next season, with small crowds, no away fans and no access to food and drink, if 'covid certification' is not put in place. 

Government plans now suggest that covid passports will not form part of the trial events

However, ministers have been fighting a rearguard action over covid passports since it announced the Events Research Programme on April 4. 

Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer has cast doubt on the use of covid passports, describing government plans as a 'a complete mess', which his party is unable to support 'in their current form'.

Liberal Democrat leader Ed Davey calls the passports 'Covid ID cards' and has described them as 'illiberal' and 'unworkable'.

The SNPs Ian Blackford has said 'on the basis of the information available, there is not a proposition in front of us that SNP MPs could support'.

And 40 Tory MPs have made clear they are against domestic vaccine passports, warning that introducing the checks in everyday life would create a 'two tier' nation.

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