Proof of full Covid-19 vaccination will be one means of gaining entry to a sporting event for the first time this weekend in England’s opening Euro 2020 match against Croatia on Sunday.
Updated information on the website of tournament organisers UEFA indicated that entry to Wembley could only be gained for those aged 11 and older with proof of full vaccination or of a negative lateral flow test taken within 48 hours of the match.
Spectators from outside the UK aged 11 and older would need to be provide proof of a negative lateral flow test within the same time frame.
Vaccination status will be demonstrated via the NHS App, and the second dose must have been administered 14 days before the match in question, the website stated, so it is anticipated only a small number of attendees will be able to gain entry this way.
Wembley is due to be at 25 per cent capacity – 22,500 – for England’s group games and the two last-16 matches it is hosting.
The Football Association and UEFA are hoping to increase that significantly for the semi-finals and final, which will all be played at the London venue, with 45,000 considered a realistic target, though a great deal will depend on whether the Government decides to ease restrictions on June 21.
The group and last-16 matches are part of the Government’s Events Research Programme (ERP) which began in April and has looked at a variety of methods to reduce or minimise social distancing with a view to spectators returning to sporting and entertainment venues in financially viable numbers.
Lateral flow testing was used to permit entry to last month’s FA Cup final.
It is understood the use of Covid certification does not signal that an outcome has been reached in the ongoing review of certification status, and is just part of testing out various mitigations as part of the ERP.
However, the Liberal Democrats’ home affairs spokesperson, Alistair Carmichael MP, was unhappy with the move.
“It’s outrageous that the Government is introducing unworkable, expensive and divisive Covid ID cards without a proper debate and vote in Parliament,” Carmichael said.
“They are being introduced without safeguards to protect people’s privacy or measures to prevent discrimination.
“The Covid pandemic has taken an enormous toll on people across the UK. We all want life to get back to normal as soon as possible, including fans at football matches. But vaccination passports are not the way forward.
“The real solution to open up safely is to get the virus under control by vaccinating everyone as quickly as possible, providing proper financial support so everyone who needs to self-isolate can afford to do so, and maintaining rigorous public health measures at our borders.”
A number of sporting bodies have supported the idea of some form of Covid certification for entry to events, with Premier League executive director Bill Bush describing it in the past as an “acceptable burden” and saying that the alternative would be tiny crowds and a ban on away fans.
Lateral flow tests must be taken after 11am on Friday for the England v Croatia in order to be valid, the UEFA website said.
Organisers of Wimbledon are understood to be awaiting the Government’s decision on whether to take step four of the coronavirus road map, when it is hoped there will be more clarity on how attendance at sporting events will be handled.