Safety fears mean not every fan will have Covid status checked

Premier League teams WON’T have to check every fan’s Covid passports at stadiums next week, with clubs given a loophole to use spot-checks if they fear supporters will bunch up in queues at old-fashioned stadiums

  • Regulations for sports events where the stadium capacity is 10,000 or above are expected to be laid before Parliament on Monday
  • Rules expected to make allowances with respect to full checks of Covid status
  • Spot checks may take place where there is a risk of large crushes or queues 
  • Proportion of fans tested could vary from venue to venue depending on risks 
  • Fans warned there is ‘no doubt’ they will be denied entry with Covid paperwork 

Not every Premier League and Championship football fan is expected to have their Covid vaccination and test status checked at matches, despite the Government’s introduction of Plan B next week.

The measures, designed to limit the spread of the new coronavirus variant, Omicron, include a requirement for sports fans to show proof of vaccination or a negative lateral flow test at stadiums with a capacity of more than 10,000 people from Wednesday.

But Sportsmail understands some matches are expected to have an option to spot check samples of supporters, where examining the credentials of every fan may pose additional risks.

Fans attending a Premier League game from next week must be ready to have their Covid vaccination status checked outside the stadium 

Guidance to be published next week looks set to demand a visual check of each person’s Covid status, but allowances could be made on safety grounds.

The decision on how many people to test will be ‘risk based’ and the exact process is likely to be agreed with local Safety Advisory Groups around each match. Some clubs may insist on full checks, while others only examine a sample.

Factors that might determine if spot checks are undertaken could include the potential for crushes outside stadiums, where the virus could spread, or queues which snake their way around residential areas outside tight, old-fashioned grounds. 

It is likely a significant proportion of spectators will be checked at every ground, so supporters who hope to sneak in without the necessary paperwork run a significant risk of missing out altogether, and it is hoped this will encourage a high level of compliance.

Newcastle United player Javier Manquillo has his Covid status checked at St James’ Park

Government Covid tests earlier this year examined the impact of spot checks.

Some top flight clubs have been checking Covid status this season with a combination of spot checks and full inspection, in anticipation that they would be mandated at some stage.

Where supporters have been unable to confirm vaccination status they have been advised to bring proof next time they visit the stadium.

However, fans will notice a significant change when they attend matches next week, with four Premier League matches scheduled to take place next Wednesday, and more over the weekend of December 18/19.

‘From Wednesday it becomes the law of the land and I have no doubt that any fan without the right paperwork will not get in,’ said one top flight source.

Until now, checks on vaccination status have taken place at matches, but not enforced by law

‘Checks will be more visible and there will be much stronger communication with supporters before matches, but it may look different from venue to venue.

‘It will be clear that if you have not done this [vaccination or obtained a negative lateral flow test] you will not get in.’

Clubs will be determined to deliver the new guidance effectively to demonstrate matches can be held safely in front of fans, even if coronavirus rates increase further.

The UK recorded 50,867 new cases of Covid-19 and a further 148 deaths yesterday, as officials worked on a potential ‘Plan C’ package of measures amid fears of the enhanced ability of Omicron to transmit from person to person.

This could see the reintroduction of rules requiring hospitality venues to collect the contact details of all customers. 

Football, alongside other sports, have lobbied long and hard to gain the confidence of Government in their ability to put events on safely. Clubs, still reeling from huge losses resulting from months without fans, will not want to put that trust at risk now.

In addition, failure to comply properly could place a club’s safety certificate, which is needed to stage events, at risk.

The first part of the Government’s Plan B came into force on Thursday with the introduction of compulsory face masks in indoor settings such as theatres, cinemas and churches.

New work-from-home guidance will come into force on Monday, and MPs will vote the next day on the introduction of vaccine passports for nightclubs and large venues.

Boris Johnson said on Wednesday that ministers hope the measures will be enough to ‘slow the spread’ of the Omicron variant while more booster jabs are rolled out

The draft regulations are due to be laid before Parliament on Monday morning.

The proof of vaccination will be in the form of the NHS app and the results of negative lateral flow tests will have to be uploaded to the government website, which then provides a text message to be shown as proof to stewards. 

Share this article

Source: Read Full Article