Silverstone joins call for UK vaccine passport

Michelle Foster
Silverstone fans

Silverstone fans

Silverstone has joined the FA and All England Lawn Tennis Club in calling for the UK government to offer “certainty as soon as possible” regarding the return of fans to events.

Although Formula 1 had back-to-back races at the Silverstone circuit last season, fans were not permitted due to the pandemic.

That was one of the big stories of the season as race after race fans were banned with only a few expections such as Russia, while other venues handed tickets to health workers as a thank you for their efforts during the pandemic.

But with the United Kingdom one of the world’s leaders in vaccinating its population, sporting bodies are hoping that capacity numbers of spectators will soon be allowed.

Silverstone along with the FA, Premier League, ECB, RFU, EFL, RFL, Lawn Tennis Association and All England Lawn Tennis Club and SPFL have written to the government calling for “certainty as soon as possible” on when fans can return to stadiums at full capacity.

Silverstone circuit

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The letter read: ‘Looking ahead to June 21, we support the Government’s ambition to secure the full return of fans, without restrictions if possible. Of necessity, this will depend upon the Government agreeing that it is safe to lessen or drop social distancing requirements.

‘How this can be achieved is being examined by the Events Research Programme (ERP) which is looking at a range of options, including the extent to which social distancing can be relaxed. This work is supported by all of the major sporting bodies.

‘All of our sports are committed to working closely with the ERP to explore all of the options that will allow us to swiftly return to full capacities. We also understand that further guidance will be issued by the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport and the Sports Grounds Safety Authority.

‘It is important that we have certainty as soon as possible on the form this guidance will take so we can plan efficiently and effectively with many big sporting events scheduled for late June and onwards.

‘The return of fans will give a huge boost to millions who enjoy a day out at a sporting event with their friends and families and be of great benefit to the economy. It is right that every possible action is considered to secure this outcome as soon as possible, but only for as long as an unrestricted return is considered unsafe to fans, matchday staff and the wider public.’

The sporting bodies believes a vaccine passport could be key to finally returning to full capacity.

The letter continued: ‘This includes investigating how a Covid certification arrangement could reduce and then safely remove the requirement for social distancing.

‘There are many issues to be addressed including how the technology would work and its ease of use at major events, for both the attendees and the organisers.

‘All of our sports can see the benefit that a Covid certification process offers in getting more fans safely back to their sport as quickly as possible. We know that our stadia can only be fully filled with an assurance process.

‘This process must ensure that everyone can access stadia and must include arrangements that would verify a negative Covid test or an antibody test or vaccination certification.

‘The final approach must not be discriminatory, should protect privacy, and have clear exit criteria.

‘We also reiterate that certification should not be a requirement for any form of participation in grassroots sport around the country.

‘Based on these principles, we support the review of the use of covid certification for major events. Any final decision on their application should follow an assessment of the evidence gathered in the forthcoming ERP trials.

‘We look forward to working with Government and all interested parties, including our stakeholders and fans, to deliver the great sporting summer the whole nation craves.’

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