Fans will NOT be allowed to attend the Carabao Cup final at Wembley on April 25
EXCLUSIVE: Fans will NOT be allowed to attend the Carabao Cup final at Wembley on April 25 – but Boris Johnson WILL include details about the return of spectators to live sport in his ‘road map’ out of lockdown today
- Prime Minister’s 60-page road map will explain how fans can return to sport
- Boris Johnson is due to address Parliament this afternoon setting out plans
- The Carabao Cup Final is expected to come too soon for supporters to be back
- However, the continuing vaccination programme and reducing serious illness should pave the way to fans returning to sporting events during the summer
But the Carabao Cup final on April 25 between Manchester City and Tottenham Hotspur is expected to come too soon to be allowed spectators, as the Prime Minister maintains a cautious approach to lifting the lockdown.
The cabinet agreed the roadmap on Sunday, which is based on opening schools from March 8 and then gradually allowing normal life to return.
The Prime Minister has set four tests for easing the lockdown restrictions, which include successful deployment of the vaccine and measures around hospitalisation and deaths, as well as monitoring for new virulent strains of the virus.
Boris Johnson will set out today how fans will return to stadiums to watch live sport
Culture Secretary Oliver Dowden has pushed for football to return at the earliest opportunity, but he, ministers, football clubs and sports are said to want a smooth transition to fans in stadiums and avoid a rollercoaster ride in which events are sanctioned and then have to be cancelled because the situation deteriorates.
It had been hoped that the Carabao Cup final at Wembley could be one of the first test events, but that now looks unlikely.
As reported by Mail Online, after the return of schools the next key date is expected to be March 29, but only outdoor gatherings of six are expected to be sanctioned, assuming infection rates are under control, serious illness is not rising and the vaccination programme remains on track.
Boris Johnson (right) is expected to set out a cautious approach to lifting lockdown, while Culture Secretary Oliver Dowden (left) has been a strong advocate for fans returning safely
In April, non-essential shops will reopen if the nation’s recovery from the virus continues and in May pubs, bars and restaurants may open their doors, too. It is not until July that life could be ‘broadly back to normal’.
However, it is expected that the return of fans to elite sport will be phased using test events, as previously intended.
And the prospect of some fans at the FA Cup Final on May 15 and some attendance at the European Championships, in which Wembley is due to host the semi finals and final in early July, remain a possibility.
Brighton hosted fans at a test event in August when Chelsea visited the Amex Stadium
Brighton’s test event in August has informed plans for the safe return of fans nationwide
Mr Johnson tweeted this morning: ‘Our priority has always been getting children back into school which we know is crucial for their education and wellbeing. We’ll also be prioritising ways for people to reunite with loved ones safely.
‘Our decisions will be made on the latest data at every step, and we will be cautious about this approach so that we do not undo the progress we have achieved so far and the sacrifices each and every one of you has made to keep yourself and others safe.’
Test events were held in the summer, including a friendly game between Brighton and Chelsea at the Amex Stadium, as elite sport prepared to welcome fans back to events in the autmn and winter.
However, as infection rates rose, tests planned for October were cancelled and any prospect of a return receded further as coronavirus spread rapidly in December.
Johnson has previously ruled out the mandatory use of domestic vaccine passports to gain entry to events.
However, the government’s Sports Technology Innovation Group continues to examine how lateral flow testing could support the return of fans.
Mr Johnson’s plans for easing lockdown have been bolstered by the latest data whihc shows Covid-19 infection rates have continued to drop, with 9,834 more cases reported – a fall of 10 per cent on last week – while the 215 new daily deaths brought Britain’s total up to 120,580