Plans for fans at sporting events 'paused' as coronavirus cases increase

Plans for fans to return to sporting events at the start of October have been put on hold by Government, as coronavirus cases continue to rise in the UK.

Cabinet office minister Michael Gove announced on Tuesday morning that the plan to reintroduce fans will have to be ‘paused’.

Premier League clubs issued a statement last week calling on Government to stick to the proposed date of 1 October to see fans in attendance again, but that won’t be happening.

‘We were looking at a staged programme of more people returning – it wasn’t going to be the case that we were going to have stadiums thronged with fans,’ Gove said on Tuesday.

‘We’re looking at how we can, for the moment, pause that programme, but what we do want to do is to make sure that, as and when circumstances allow, get more people back.

‘The virus is less likely to spread outdoors than indoors but again it’s in the nature of major sporting events that there’s a lot of mingling.’

BBC sports editor Dan Roan suggested that this will be a prolonged pause, running into next year, tweeting: ‘Don’t think this is a short term “pause” either. I’m hearing sports are to be asked by govt what impact will be of no fans for SEVERAL MONTHS.’

The Covid-19 alert level has been raised to 4, which means transmission is ‘high or rising exponentially’ in the UK.

A Premier League statement issued last Thursday read: ‘The Premier League and its clubs met today to discuss the return of supporters to stadiums.

‘Safety remains the No 1 priority and clubs reiterated their commitment to ensuring Premier League stadiums will be among the safest public places, through the effective use of a wide range of mitigation measures.

‘Clubs will adopt a range of common standards, which will help deliver bio-secure, safe environments for fans across the League.

‘Clubs reaffirmed that the continued loss of matchday revenues is having a significant impact across the League as well as on the football pyramid and local and national economies.

‘Taking into account the high safety standards which will be set by the Premier League in conjunction with the relevant public authorities, the League and clubs urge Government to remain committed to the 1 October date for the controlled return of fans to sporting venues.’

However, since then, the coronavirus forecast has become much more serious. On Monday the UK’s top scientists warned coronavirus cases were doubling every week and could rise to 50,000 per day by mid-October if urgent action wasn’t taken.

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