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Covid certificates considered to allow fans’ return to large events, says Dowden

By Emma Bowden, PA

Coronavirus certificates are being considered as a way of getting fans back to larger events “in significant numbers”, according to the Culture Secretary.

Oliver Dowden said that ministers were reviewing the possibility of introducing a document providing proof that a person has either been vaccinated against the virus or tested negative.

Mr Dowden said this could be used as part of the drive to return to normality, as he emphasised the importance of getting crowds back into stadiums and theatres this summer for the future of these industries.

Under the Government’s current plans for easing restrictions, crowds of up to 10,000 in the largest venues could be allowed at performances and sporting events from May 17.

It is hoped that all remaining restrictions on larger events and performances could be lifted from June 21, which is the earliest date for all legal limits on social contact to be removed.

The FA Cup Final and the World Snooker Championship are among the pilot events designed to test the large-scale return of spectators to venues, as the country seeks to reopen following the latest coronavirus lockdown.

Mr Dowden told Sky News on Friday: “From June 21, if all goes to plan in the way that I described, we hope to get people back in significant numbers.

“We’re piloting the different things that will enable that to happen – clearly it will have to be done in a Covid-secure way.

“You would expect, and we will be testing these things, things like one-way systems, things like masks, things like hand hygiene and everything else.

“Another thing that we are considering is a Covid certification, and we will be testing whether we can use Covid certification to help facilitate the return of sports.”

The Culture Secretary said that final decisions had not yet been made and that he was working with Cabinet Office Minister Michael Gove, who is leading a review on this.

Asked if social distancing measures could still remain in place, he said the current guidelines made it “very, very difficult” for indoor events such as theatre productions to go ahead.

“I hope we will be able to find ways of mitigating against, certainly, having the sort of social distancing that we have at the moment,” he told Sky News.

“The sort of social distancing we have at the moment makes it very, very difficult, for example, for theatre productions to be run profitably.

“It makes it very, very difficult for our football clubs to run profitably if you have to have those large distances between people.

“Clearly, we have been in the situation for the past year where we have had to have those distances, so we are proceeding with caution, that’s why it’s the last stage, that’s why we are piloting different ways of mitigating against that.”

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