By Andrew Atkinson
Supporters at Premier League games have to wear face masks at all times – as part of a plan to get stadiums back to one-third capacity by the end of the season.
The regulations also include a mandatory temperature check on arrival. Supporters will also be told not to excessively sing or shout and to moderate their behaviour – so they do not high-five or hug.
Premier League shareholders’ agreed the regulations are part of a wider plan to show the government that football can safely handle the return of fans.
The hope is some stadiums could have up to 20,000 spectators by the end of the season, especially with a coronavirus vaccine now available.
Fans wearing face masks while seated will reduce risk of transmission of Covid-19 from singing and shouting, and make it easier for stadiums to comply with Sports Grounds Safety Authority rules, relating to social distancing.
With masks, fans can be seated a metre apart, whereas the requirement is two metres for those without.
Under the 3-Tier system in place in England, outdoor sports venues can have up to 2,000 fans in Tier-2 areas and 4,000 in Tier-1, but no fans in Tier-3.
Premier League executives are hoping that the government will allow them to use pilot matches to increase these numbers in the new year.
Ten Premier League clubs can currently allow 2,000 fans under the tiered system.
The Premier League is understood not to be looking to secure vaccines for its players in the immediate future. However it is looking at ways to support the government’s vaccine plan by enabling football facilities to be used for the inoculation of the public.
10,000 fans were admitted entry at six fixtures in the EFL on December 2, with COVID-19 regulations in place.
Supporters were allowed to enjoy a pint, without ordering a substantial meal, only when seated in concourses or hospitality areas.
It was advised against using toilet facilities at peak times, at half-time and the end of the match, and told to stay in their seats throughout the game, if possible.
Fans were allowed to take masks off while seated, which will not be permitted in Premier League grounds.