Fans look forward “Freedom Day” from next month as Covid-19 social restrictions due to be lifted. Crowd numbers may be back to pre-pandemic levels for the new season.
Football clubs could see spectators pack the grounds from next month as all social restrictions at venues in England are expected to be scrapped on 19th July – so-called “Freedom Day”.
Back in May, up to 10,000 supporters were permitted at outdoor sports events, including for the final two rounds of matches in the previous Premier League campaign. But from August, crowd numbers may be back to pre-pandemic levels for the new season.
A final decision on the current restrictions will be made by the government on 12 July, following a review of the latest data.
The anticipated ending of the remaining Covid-19 rules at places like stadiums and festivals comes under step four of the government’s roadmap out of lockdown.
This includes limits which had previously been imposed over the number of people that can attend an event, along with the one-metre plus rule.
As well as capacity caps being lifted, all remaining businesses will be able to reopen including nightclubs.
Also, the legal requirement to wear face coverings will be removed, although guidance will suggest people might choose to do so in “enclosed and crowded spaces”.
And, there will be no compulsory use of Covid status certification – the so-called domestic vaccine passports.
Under step three of the roadmap, at indoor events up to 1,000 people or 50% of a venue’s capacity, whichever was lower, had been permitted.
And at outdoor events, up to 4,000 people had been allowed or 50% of a site or venue’s capacity, whichever was lower.
But the government also made a special provision for large, outdoor seated venues where crowds could be safely distributed around the venue, allowing up to 10,000 people or 25% of total seated capacity, whichever was lower.
This provision could be used by venues with a seated capacity of 16,000 or above.
By lifting restrictions, officials have acknowledged COVID-19 cases and deaths would continue to increase – albeit at a much lower level than before the successful vaccination programme – but it was now necessary to find a new way to live with the virus.
At a Downing Street press conference, Boris Johnson admitted the pandemic was “far from over” with cases rising “fairly rapidly”.
“There could be 50,000 cases detected per day by the 19th,” the prime minister said.
“We are seeing rising hospital admissions and we must reconcile ourselves, sadly, to more deaths from COVID.”
Premier League said in a statement: “Fans have been hugely missed so we welcome today’s announcement by the government, and are looking forward to full stadiums in the 2021/22 season.
“As we move towards a government decision on Step 4 of the roadmap and beyond, we will continue to work with football stakeholders and relevant public authorities to ensure that the return to full capacity is done in a way that keeps everyone safe.”