The Wimbledon singles finals, four Euro 2020 games and the British Grand Prix will be among the few sporting events allowed to open their doors to large crowds before the end of lockdown on July 19.
Major sporting organisers were last night lobbying the Government to be allowed to take part in a new pilot scheme that will permit crowds up to full capacity at up to 20 events.
The sell-out men’s and women’s singles finals at Wimbledon and the British GP at Silverstone on July 18 are among the chosen few that can now increase their ticket sales.
The tennis will take place at half capacity at the beginning of the tournament on June 28, rising to 100 per cent on Centre Court for the finals, which will be the first sell-out outdoor sports event in over a year.
Four Wembley Euro 2020 games will also be allowed to increase their capacity to half of the stadium, totalling around 40,000 fans. The current rules allow just 22,500.
The last match of the Round of 16, both semi-finals and the final will take place at half capacity, under plans agreed by ministers to allow more fans to watch England’s matches if they reach the final stages of the tournament.
Silverstone hopes it too will be allowed to run at full capacity outdoors on the eve of the restrictions lifting.
Speaking at a press conference last night, the Prime Minister said the Government would "continue to pilot events such as Euro 2020 and some theatrical performances," which may include Andrew Lloyd Webber’s latest production, Cinderella.
The announcement will prompt other organisers to step up their lobbying to be among the 20 events. England is playing numerous cricket and rugby matches before July 19, while the golf Open Championship is taking place at Royal St George’s in Kent from July 15-18.
The rules at stage three of the UK’s lockdown roadmap means events not part of the scheme can only host 10,000 fans or a quarter of their capacity – whichever is lower.
Under the pilot scheme, which follows a similar initiative that allowed a club night and sports events to go ahead, officials will measure the spread of Covid among spectators in different scenarios.
Those will include fans being seated and unseated, with venues operating up to full capacity, and with some using Covid passports via the NHS app.
Use of the app is not expected to be compulsory, but attendees will be required to take tests to guarantee their status before and after the events.
Where is the Indian (Delta) variant in the UK?
Officials also want to use the NHS App to show a user’s "natural immunity status" from previous infection or vaccination.
Under a previous pilot, attendees were expected to take PCR tests, which measure the presence of the virus, and lateral flow tests, which do the same but are considered less reliable.
The outcome of a Government review into Covid status passports outside of the trial, chaired by Michael Gove, has been delayed to reflect the later expected date for stage four of the unlocking roadmap.
Boris Johnson’s spokesman said the delay to the end of lockdown would not affect existing arrangements that allow some fans to attend the other Euro 2020 matches at Wembley.
Mr Johnson’s spokesman told reporters: "The large events pilots will be going forward to continue to test and trial Covid status certification.
"They will be a mix of indoor and outdoor events. They will be a mix of seated and unseated events, operating up to full capacity where that is possible over the four weeks to July 19.
"It will include further Euros games at Wembley, and other kinds of key sporting events, as well as trials at some cultural events to test some more indoor venues."