Coronavirus: Fans to return in select pilot events from Saturday
The events will start with the final of the World Snooker Championship at Sheffield's Crucible Theatre this weekend
Last Updated: 14/08/20 7:11am
Pilot events to test the safe return of spectators will resume from Saturday in the hope that fans can attend sporting venues from the start of October.
The events will start with the final of the World Snooker Championship at Sheffield's Crucible Theatre this weekend, with a full pilot programme to follow.
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Prime Minister Boris Johnson called off planned pilot events with some fans in attendance during the first two weeks of August amid fears over the coronavirus infection rate.
But the government has now sanctioned the public attending a small number of sporting events, with a view to reopening competition venues for sports fans, with social distancing measures in place, from October 1.
Sky Sports News reported last week after the Premier League shareholders meeting that it was still the government's 'plan' for crowds to be allowed back to professional sport, including football.
The Premier League will welcome the re-starting of pilot events as they have said they would offer to use pre-season matches and the opening games of the new season as test events to help manage the return of fans inside stadia.
A No 10 statement read: "Piloting of a small number of sporting events to test the safe return of spectators will resume from August 15 with a view to reopening competition venues for sports fans, with social distancing measures in place from 1 October.
"This will commence with the final of the World Snooker Championship at Sheffield's Crucible Theatre during 15-16 August, with a full pilot programme to follow."
Boris Johnson said: "We are able to announce some further changes which will allow more people to return to work and the public to get back to more of the things they have missed.
"However, as I have always said, we will not hesitate to put on the brakes if required, or to continue to implement local measures to help to control the spread of the virus."
Last month's two-day cricket clash between Surrey and Middlesex had signalled the return of some fans to live sport, and two more county friendlies also saw spectators through the gates.
The World Snooker Championship started its first day with fans in attendance, and around 5,000 racegoers had been due to attend the Glorious Goodwood Festival on August 1.
But those plans were shelved abruptly, with the government determined to limit the spread of coronavirus.
The plan set out in the 'roadmap to recovery' was paused for two weeks but will now resume from Saturday, except for specific areas where local restrictions are in place.
Culture Secretary Oliver Dowden said: "The nation's hard work to keep the virus under control means we can now make further careful progress on recovery with allowing audiences back for indoor performances, fans back at sports events and the reopening of more Covid-19 secure leisure businesses.
"We must all continue to stay alert but today's welcome news means these organisations can finally get going safely, and we can enjoy more of the things we love as a nation.
"I have no doubt that they will work incredibly hard to keep their fans, patrons, and customers safe."