Covid passports will be required at football matches and other sports events this winter if Covid cases soar – and far more stadiums will be affected than previously thought.
Today, Prime Minister Boris Johnson unveiled his winter plan to control an expected surge in infections.
As trailed by ministers, the immediate threat of Covid certification at matches has receded. The Prime Minister’s Plan A relies on booster jabs for over-50s and vulnerable groups as well as vaccines for children, but if that fails, Plan B will feature Covid passports at stadiums with a capacity of 10,000 or more and some indoor venues.
Government will not demand Covid Passports at grounds next month, but they are in Plan B
Previously, the Cabinet Office, which would be responsible for implementing a Covid passport scheme, indicated the threshold could be 20,000.
The change means that far more football grounds in England will be expected to implement Covid passports than previously thought, and they will only admit fans who are double jabbed.
A threshold of 20,000 capacity would have affected around 45 grounds, however at 10,000 that number rises to 74, reaching deeply into the lower tiers of the EFL.
League One Crewe Alexandra has a capacity of 10,153 placing it in the frame for Covid passports if the government deems them necessary.
Government had previously said that Covid passports would be introduced at football grounds from the end of September.
Premier League clubs will continue to employ Covid marshals at games to carry out checks
But Mr Johnson yesterday said he wanted to ‘avoid vaccine passports, if we possibly can’. But a Whitehall source confirmed they remained a live option.
Today, the government stated ‘under Plan B, [it] expects that mandatory vaccine-only certification would be introduced for visitors… [at] any settings with 10,000 or more attendees, such as large sports and music stadia.’
The Government has said it is ‘committed to taking whatever action is necessary to protect the NHS from being overwhelmed’.
Since the season began in August, some Premier League clubs have required fans to demonstrate vaccination or proof of a negative test or previous infection as the top flight prepared for the mandatory use of certification in the autumn.
The Premier League’s Covid health protocols and rules are the most rigorous in UK sport
However, despite the reprieve now offered by Government, Sportsmail reported today, that the Premier League will ask fans not to attend matches unless they have been fully vaccinated or can provide evidence of a recent negative Covid test for the rest of the season.
Clubs will continue to employ Covid marshals at games to carry out spot-checks of supporters’ Covid certification, and those without the required credentials may be barred from entering the stadium.
Some clubs are understood to have already ejected fans who were unable to demonstrate their Covid status in the opening weeks of the campaign.