It’s the news we’ve all been waiting for….
On Monday, Boris Johnson announced that a limited number of spectators will be allowed at both outdoor and indoor sporting events from December onwards.
The ‘tiered’ system of lockdown restrictions will remain in place, and so in the highest risk areas of tier three there will remain a ban on fans at live events.
But in tier one areas, a maximum of 4,000 spectators or 50% of a venue’s capacity (whichever is the lowest) will be permitted, while in tier two zones a maximum of 2,000 people or 50% of capacity will be allowed.
Indoor sports have also been given a boost, with venues in tiers one and two allowed a maximum of 1,000 fans or 50% – that has offered hope that supporters will be allowed at both the dart’s World Championship, which is scheduled for December, and snooker’s Masters in January.
But, of course, the main euphoria has been saved for fans of football, rugby and horse racing, who will now be able to attend live matches and meetings in person – the first time since March in most cases that has been possible.
The Prime Minister confirmed that each areas’ tier will be announced on Thursday, and has confirmed the criteria used for determining which tier each town and city will be in.
“….looking at the rate at which cases are rising or falling, the percentage of those tested in a local population who have Covid and current and projected pressures on the NHS,” Boris confirmed as points of consideration.
The Football Supporters’ Association have greeted the news with relish, and stated their hope that more fans will be allowed back in soon to swell gate receipts at struggling clubs.
“We welcome today’s announcement, and we look forward to seeing further details,” their statement read.
“For many lower-league and non-league clubs in particular, getting paying fans into stadiums safely is absolutely critical to their survival during a very difficult season.”
There’s good news for amateur sports enthusiasts too. Grassroots sports can resume, with gyms and leisure centres opening their doors across all of the tiers. However, there are some restrictions on households mixing.
Betting Shops to Open Their Doors
What is interesting about the government’s announcement is that betting shops will be allowed to open their doors to the public once more.
Before, bookies were considered part of the hospitality sector, and so they were forced to close in line with casinos and other such establishments.
But it appears as if there has been a rethink at 10 Downing Street, particularly as betting shops have come together to enhance their coronavirus safety measures yet further. Chairs have been removed from the shop floor, live sport will no longer be shown on TV screens and there is a limit on the number of people allowed in the shop at any one time.
Even betting shops located in tier three areas will be allowed to open again in a move that the BHA chief Nick Rust has described as ‘more welcome news’, referring to the government’s £40 million rescue package for racing announced last week.