Sports fans will be allowed to return to indoor and outdoor events from December 2.
In a huge boost for the nation, Prime Minister Boris Johnson has announced spectators can return to Premier League and EFL games and other sporting events once the lockdown ends.
Fans have been kept away from stadiums since the first lockdown started in March – with just a few exceptions in the months since.
But restrictions will be eased after the latest national lockdown is lifted next week, with the country returning to a regional tiered system.
The PM announced that outdoor and indoor sporting venues in tier 1 and 2 areas would be allowed to admit spectators on a limited basis.
COVID WINTER PLAN Sports fans back in stadia from 2nd Dec
K or 50% of capacity in Tier 1
K or 50% of capacity in Tier 2 A big step forward for fans as we work towards fuller capacities Thanks to pilot hosts & fans for showing this can be done safely
In tier 2, the limit will be 2,000 outdoors and 1,000 indoors, or 50 per cent capacity. No fans will be allowed in stadiums in tier 3 areas.
It was also announced that outdoor grassroots sports and indoor sports facilities such as gyms would be able to reopen.
“In tiers 1 and 2 spectator sports and business events will be free to resume inside and outside with capacity limits and social distancing, providing more consistency with indoor performances in theatres and concert halls,” Johnson said.
“Later this week we will announce which areas will fall into which tier – I hope on Thursday – based on analysis of cases in all age groups, especially the over-60s.
“Also, [it will involve] looking at the rate at which cases are rising or falling, the percentage of those tested in a local population who have COVID and current and projected pressures on the NHS.”
Haydock Park Horse racing on December 2 could be the first live sporting event with spectators as we appear to be heading towards a return to normality, with vaccines returning positive results heading into the end of 2020.
Elite football clubs – who have continued to play behind closed doors – have protocols in place to reopen stadiums once the green light is given.
Manchester United could host the first football match with fans on December 2 when Paris Saint-Germain visit in the Champions League.
Arsenal play at home to Rapid Vienna the following day and will also hope to return supporters to the Emirates for their Europa League tie.