Spectators are set to return to sports venues in England next month

UK Prime Minister announces that outdoor and indoor venues would be allowed to admit spectators on a limited basis depending on infection rates

File photo dated 29-08-2020 of Brighton and Hove Albion fans take their seats in the stands with social distancing measures before the pre-season friendly at the AMEX Stadium in Brighton PA Photo. Issue date: Monday November 23, 2020. Outdoor and indoor sports venues in tiers 1 and 2 will be able to welcome a “limited number” of spectators to events when the national lockdown ends, Prime Minister Boris Johnson has said. See PA story SPORT Coronavirus. Photo credit should read Adam Davy/PA Wire.

Spectators are set to return to sports venues in England next month as coronavirus restrictions are eased in areas with lower infection rates.

UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson announced that outdoor and indoor venues in tier 1 and 2 areas would be allowed to admit spectators on a limited basis, but did not confirm what the capacity limits or percentages would be.

It has been reported that 4,000 spectators or 50 per cent capacity limits – whichever is lowest – would be allowed in tier 1, dropping to 2,000 or 50 per cent for indoor venues.

In tier 2, it would be 2,000 outdoors and 1,000 indoors, or 50 per cent capacity.

Johnson also said outdoor grassroots sports and indoor sports facilities like gyms would be able to reopen.

Johnson said in a statement to the House of Commons: "Spectator sports and business events will be free to resume inside and outside with capacity limits and social distancing, providing more consistency with indoor performances in theatres and concert halls."

Spectators had been due to be allowed to return to stadiums from October 1 but the Government pressed pause on that decision due to a rise in infections nationwide.

Culture Secretary Oliver Dowden said last week there was "definitely a chance" of some venues being able to reopen on a limited basis by Christmas in the areas with the lowest infection rates.

Last Thursday the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport announced a £300 million ($398m) 'Winter Survival Package' of loans and grants to sports which are facing financial losses as a result of the absence of fans from stadiums.

His remarks on grassroots sport will no doubt be widely welcomed by the sector.

Grassroots sport had been forced to pause since November 5 when the second lockdown came into force, a decision which led to protests and even parliamentary debates over whether certain activities and pastimes should be made exempt.

Culture Secretary Oliver Dowden later confirmed the detail around spectators returning in a tweet. "Sports fans back in stadia from 2nd Dec 4K or 50 per cent of capacity in Tier 1, 2K or 50 per cent of capacity in Tier 2.

"A big step forward for fans as we work towards fuller capacities. Thanks to pilot hosts & fans for showing this can be done safely."

Dowden also tweeted: "Grassroots sport back on to help the nation stay fit & healthy. Gyms open & amateur sport back on in all areas. Kids team sport open in all areas.

"Some mitigations for high contact sports & adults sport indoors."

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