The government has unveiled a list of nine pilot events designed to test the safe return of crowds in 2021.
Venues participating in the programme will test specific settings – with researchers using the data to determine how sports games, gigs, shows, weddings, conferences and nightclubs could operate.
Pilot events will be testing attendees on entry and exit; utilising one-way systems as part of the venue layout; and employing the use of face coverings.
COVID-status certification will also be trialled as part of the pilot programme.
Researchers will assess particular risk factors throughout – such as the availability of alcohol; catering; and transportation to/from events.
The full list of pilot events (and number of attendees permitted) is as follows:
- 16 April – Hot Water Comedy Club, Liverpool – 300 people (indoor seated)
- 18 April – FA Cup Semi-Final – Wembley – 4,000 people (outdoor seated)
- 17 April – 3 May – Snooker World Championships – Sheffield Crucible Theatre – up to 1,000 people a day (indoor seated)
- 23-25 April – Luna Outdoor Cinema, Liverpool – 1,000 people (outdoor seated)
- 24-25 April – Three 10k runs – Hatfield Park – 3,000 people and up to 3,000 spectators at each event (outdoor, mass participation run)
- 25 April – Carabao Cup Final, Wembley – 8,000 people (outdoor, seated)
- 28 April – Business Event, Liverpool – 1,000 people (indoor, seated and mixing)
- 30 April – Circus Nightclub, Liverpool – circa 3,000 people (indoor club night)
- 15 May – FA Cup Final, Wembley, London – 21,000 people (outdoor, seated)
Culture Secretary Oliver Dowden said that stadiums needed the government to “find ways to get bums back on seats safely.”
“This science-led pilot programme will be the springboard in getting the buzz back of live performance,” he stated.
“We’ve supported the sports and arts with unprecedented sums, but it’s now time to make that Great British Summer of live events a reality.”
Mark Bullingham, CEO of the FA, said he was “confident” that Wembley Stadium – which is set to host three of the pilot events – would provide a “safe environment.”
“This is an important first step towards getting fans back, with the end goal of full stadia – hopefully by the end of the Men’s Euros,” he stated.
Several stadiums originally began testing the return of fans when sport first returned in 2020, but the plan was scuppered after coronavirus cases surged during late autumn and led to a second national lockdown in November.
Most sports fixtures have been played behind closed doors since the new year.
On Bank Holiday Monday, Prime Minister Boris Johnson confirmed that the second stage of the roadmap would be proceeding as planned – with restrictions on gyms, non-essential retail and outdoor hospitality all set to be lifted from April 12.