Premier League clubs are preparing to accept full capacity crowds this weekend for the first time since March 2020.
As the 2021-22 season gets under way with legally enforced capacity restrictions gone, only Chelsea and Everton of the 10 home teams will implement covid certification status protocols. The pair will require proof of double vaccination or a negative Covid test within 48 hours of kick off.
The Premier League is also implementing various protocols, including possible random spot checks and the possibility that fans will have to prove their vaccination status. “Fans should not attend Premier League matches if there is any risk they can pass on Covid-19,” the league said in a statement.
“From the start of the 2021/22 season, match-going fans should be prepared to show they have been fully vaccinated or have received a negative lateral flow test in the previous 48 hours.”
The statement continued: “Initially, in the first few match days of the season, supporters can expect the introduction of random spot-checks for ticket holders at some grounds as we establish the required processes so clubs and fans are prepared for all match attenders to have their Covid-19 status checked upon arrival, should it become mandatory.”
Other major Premier League clubs such as Liverpool are “encouraging” fans to have had a negative Covid-19 test within 24 hours of kick-off, while others have no mandatory requirements in place but will follow the Premier League guidance.
This weekend is seen as a turning point in the pandemic, as more than 1.7m people are expected to attend a live event – including sports fixtures and festivals. Covid-19 status checks for mass events are not currently compulsory until October 1 in England.
Professor Graham Medley, who is part of the UK Government’s pandemic modelling group Spi-m and a member of the Scientific Advisory Group for Emergencies (Sage), said: “Every weekend over the next few months is going to be seen as a test, and it is. Personally, I expect that incidence of infection will start to increase.
“One thing that science has failed to do is convince the public that mass events are not especially risky. Whilst more than a million people will be attending mass events this weekend, I suspect a much larger number will meet friends, attend weddings and go to the pub.”