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Venues deny plans to use COVID certificates for UK pilot events

Most venues that plan to host pilot events to aid the return of live events in England have said COVID-19 passports will not be required after the UK government confirmed the list of test events.

The Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS) revealed on Sunday that COVID-status certifications, which would show whether an attendee has been vaccinated, had a recent negative test or natural immunity, would be trialled as part of the pilot programme.

However, the Guardian newspaper has reported that these ‘passports’ will not be required for the Snooker World Championships or the events in Liverpool and are instead set to be trialled at later events such as the FA Cup semi-final between Leicester City and Southampton on April 18. Five of the nine events in the pilot programme have confirmed they will not use proof of vaccination for entry.

A spokesperson for Liverpool city council said on Sunday: “The line which was briefed out yesterday by the government about Liverpool’s events being included in the vaccine passports trials is incorrect – none of our events in Liverpool will involve them.”

The pilots will form part of the government’s Events Research Programme, which will be used to provide scientific data and research into how small and large-scale events could be permitted in line with the government roadmap outlined in February. Step 4 of the roadmap, which would come into effect no earlier than June 21, would see no legal limits on social contact and potentially pave the way for large-scale crowds at sporting events this summer.

The pilot events will explore how different approaches to social distancing, ventilation and test-on-test entry protocols could ease opening and maximise participation.

The Snooker World Championships, which take place in Sheffield from April 17 to May 3, will also trial the return of fans, with up to 1,000 people a day to be permitted at the Crucible Theatre. Other entertainment events in Liverpool, as well as three 10km runs at Hatfield Park, also feature on the initial list of pilots.

Up to 4,000 fans will be permitted at Wembley for the FA Cup semi-finals, with capacity to increase to 8,000 for the Carabao Cup final between Tottenham Hotspur and Manchester City on April 25. It is then hoped that up to 21,000 fans will be allowed at Wembley for the FA Cup final on May 15.

Culture Secretary Oliver Dowden said: “Our sports stars and great performers need us to find ways to get bums back on seats safely. This science-led pilot programme will be the springboard in getting the buzz back of live performance. We’ve supported the sports and arts with unprecedented sums, but it’s now time to make that Great British Summer of live events a reality.”

Image: Shane Rounce / CC BY-NC-SA 2.0 / Edited for size