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When could vaccine passports be introduced?
The plan for supporters to show vaccine passports on entry into Premier League matches, and other large events which exceed a 20,000 spectator capacity, is expected to be in place from October.
The move would apply to all 92 professional football clubs in England and could also be extended to lower divisions and other sports across the country, as ministers seek to reduce the risk of Covid-19 transmission now other restrictions have been lifted.
Talks are currently in an early phase with the Premier League and while no final decisions have been made, it is being discussed whether vaccine passports could be required for other seated events in venues with a capacity of 20,000 people and over.
Unseated events, such as outdoor music gigs and festivals, could see passports introduced if the capacity threshold is as low as 5,000 attendees, due to concerns over people mingling in close proximity.
A government source said: “It’s important that fans can continue to watch sporting events over the autumn, which is why we’re exploring the role vaccines might play in this.
“This will not only allow full capacity stadiums but has the added bonus of incentivising people of all ages to go and get their jab.”
Making proof of vaccination mandatory in the Premier League from October would give time to phase in their use with the season starting on 114 August.
However, it is understood that contingency plans are being discussed in the event the government advises against introducing passports.
Will a negative Covid test be valid for entry?
It is understood that ministers are still discussing whether a recent negative Covid-19 test could be allowed to grant entry to football matches, as an alternative to proof of vaccination.
However, the use of tests has already been ruled out for nightclubs, with clubbers to be barred from entering venues from September unless they have been double jabbed.
Prime Minister Boris Johnson faced backlash after announcing the plans for nightclubs earlier this week, on the same day all remaining legal coronavirus restrictions were lifted in England.
Mr Johnson warned that vaccine passports could also be made a condition of entry for “other venues where large crowds gather”, saying that “proof of a negative test will no longer be sufficient”.
The plans for introducing passports at sporting events has been met with criticism from Labour, with shadow sports secretary Jo Stevens arguing that testing would be much more efficient.
She said: “To insist on vaccine passports less than a month before the start of the season will cause major disruptions, especially for clubs at the lower end of the pyramid.
“Labour has been clear that the use of Covid vaccination status alone will exclude those who can’t be vaccinated or haven’t had the jab because of delays.
“Being double jabbed doesn’t prove you aren’t carrying the virus. Testing for access to venues would be more efficient.”
Chief scientific adviser Sir Patrick Vallance has previously warned that nightclubs have the potential to cause “super spreading events”, but it is unclear to what extent football matches have a role in spreading Covid-19.
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