Culture secretary Oliver Dowden has said the government is looking into whether crowds of more than 10,000 will be able to attend matches at this summer’s rescheduled European Championship.
From 17 May stadiums could be permitted to host as many as 10,000 fans, while from 21 June the current plan is for restrictions to be lifted completely. Pilot events will explore how spectators can return safely in large numbers to stadiums.
The rescheduled Euros, which is due to be played across the continent including at Wembley and the Millennium Stadium, begins on 11 June.
Dowden, secretary of state for digital, culture, media and sport, told Sky Sports News: “For the later matches in the tournament, we’ll be looking at substantially more than [10,000], but that is subject to finding a safe way of doing that. I’m very hopeful and optimistic that we will get many, many more people in for the later stage games.”
Sports facilities such as football and cricket pitches, tennis and basketball courts, outdoor swimming pools and golf courses were among those reopening on Monday. Some golf courses opened at a minute past midnight, allowing the action to resume immediately under the cover of darkness. Neon golf balls were used at the Morley Hayes course in Ilkeston, Derbyshire, meaning players were able to tee off seconds after the ban was lifted.
Dowden said on Sky Sports News: “I’m absolutely delighted. After this dreadful long winter of Covid, spring is in the air and grassroots sport is returning. We said when we went into these dreadful restrictions that grassroots sport should be the last in and the first out. Today we’re delivering on that and it’s so essential to everyone’s sense of health and wellbeing.”
Further progress towards planned easing of restrictions will depend on targets being met in terms of the prevalence of coronavirus, meaning further delays are possible.
Dowden added: “This is why it’s important people abide by the rules as we go through each stage of this. The reason why we’ve been able to do what we’re seeing today is because people have by and large stuck to the rules so far. It’s important that at each stage people stick to the rules.”