The government is understood to be in talks with the Premier League over preventing unvaccinated fans from attending matches; rule could be applied in the EFL and in other sports; government source believes plans could incentivise public to get vaccine
Sunday 25 July 2021 18:23, UK
Large events such as Premier League games could be open only to fully vaccinated people from October under government plans.
Talks are under way with the Premier League to discuss whether supporters who have not received both jabs could be barred from entry, according to the PA news agency.
The rule could also be used for lower divisions and other sports, and for seated events with a capacity of more than 20,000 people.
For unseated events, such as gigs, the threshold could be as low as 5,000 attendees.
A government source said: "It's important that fans can continue to watch sporting events over the autumn, which is why we're exploring the role vaccines might play in this.
"This will not only allow full capacity stadiums but has the added bonus of incentivising people of all ages to go and get their jab."
Sky Sports News understands the Premier League had been planning for this eventuality, despite the hope the season would start without restrictions. It is also thought that the first few games of the season could be used to introduce trial certification - along with pre-season matches.
The EFL has previously said it remains in dialogue with the Government.
It is not clear whether a recent negative test could allow entry to football matches, but this has been ruled out for nightclubs.
Shadow sports secretary Jo Stevens said: "To insist on vaccine passports less than a month before the start of the season will cause major disruptions, especially for clubs at the lower end of the pyramid.
"Labour has been clear that the use of COVID vaccination status alone will exclude those who can't be vaccinated or haven't had the jab because of delays.
"Being double jabbed doesn't prove you aren't carrying the virus. Testing for access to venues would be more efficient."
The English Football League declined to comment, but it is understood that contingency plans are being discussed to deal with any change in government policy.
Chairman of the Football Supporters' Association Malcolm Clarke warned the proposal being considered by the Government could cause "chaos" at some clubs.
Clarke, whose organisation says it represents more than 500,000 members, warned that some football fans may stop attending matches "unless this is managed very carefully".
"I think if they're going to do this with big football crowds, then they need to have the resources to do the checks. I'm not convinced that all football clubs will be able to manage that in a way that doesn't cause some chaos," he told Times Radio.
"There will certainly be some football supporters for whom this will be an incentive, who are desperate to get back in the ground and watch their teams.
"There may be others who will say 'you know what, I've got used to being without going to the games and this is the last straw, I'm not coming back'. How it breaks down between those two groups and everything in between, I wouldn't like to predict."
The government's chief scientific adviser Sir Patrick Vallance has previously said nightclubs could be "super-spreading events" but it is not clear whether there are similar fears about football matches.
There were worries about fans travelling to London during Euro 2020, however, and Public Health Scotland figures showed nearly 1,300 coronavirus cases linked to fans heading to the capital for matches in the group stages.
On Saturday, it was announced that people in frontline roles such as police, fire and the Border Force will be able to avoid quarantine - regardless of vaccine status - if they are a close contact of a positive COVID case.
It is part of government efforts to deal with the current situation where certain sectors are being left severely under-staffed due to workers being told to self-isolate because they have come into contact with someone who has COVID.
More than 600,000 people in England and Wales were told to quarantine by the NHS COVID-19 app in the week to July 14.
Emergency service workers and other critical staff, including those in transport, freight and haulage, were already going to be exempt from isolation - but only if their employers specified their names and that they were double jabbed.
Now they will be able to take part in the scheme whether they are vaccinated or not, as new testing sites will be established.
Also on Saturday, the number of new COVID-19 cases in the UK fell for the fourth consecutive day.
There were 31,795 new cases recorded, compared to 36,389 cases on Friday and 54,674 infections on the same day the previous week.