Coronavirus 'plan B': Football fans will need 'vaccine pass' to attend events in England with over 10,000 people

Thiago Alcantara celebrates with Anfield crowd
Anfield and other Premier League grounds will bring in further checks

Fans will need to show proof of double vaccination or a negative test to attend sporting events with crowds of more than 10,000 people in England under new Covid-19 rules.

The government has made the NHS Covid pass mandatory at such events because of the spread of the Omicron variant.

The rules will come into effect from Wednesday, 15 December.

Access to any event in excess of 10,000 people in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland already requires a Covid pass.

Prime Minister Boris Johnson announced the rules as part of the Covid 'plan B' measures in England during a news conference at Downing Street on Wednesday.

The Covid pass will also be needed for any unseated indoor venue with more than 500 people attending and any unseated outdoor venue with more than 4,000 people attending.

There are three Premier League games on 14 December, the day before the rules come into effect, with four top-flight games the following day when the rules begin.

The new rules will affect all 17 Premier League games scheduled between 15-19 December, with Brentford, Manchester City and Norwich - who all play on Tuesday - the only teams not to have a home game in this time.

A Covid pass will also be required at all 10 Championship games in England from 15-19 December, as well as seven of the 12 League One games and six of the 12 League Two games next week.

All four European Champions Cup rugby matches and all three European Challenge Cup ties taking place in England next week will also be affected.

Premier League clubs have conducted spot checks on fans this season, with Brighton, Chelsea and Tottenham among those to make Covid passes mandatory.

Johnson said the pass would still be available to people who had received two doses of a vaccine against Covid-19 but the government would "keep this under review" as the booster programme was extended.

He added that a negative lateral flow test would also be sufficient to obtain a Covid pass.

He said the restrictions would start in a week to help keep events and venues open "at full capacity" while giving attendees "confidence that those around them have done the responsible thing to minimise risk to others".

The new restrictions are designed to curb a rise in cases and mitigate the risk posed by the newly arrived Omicron variant, which seems to be more transmissible than other strains.

Johnson said 568 cases of the Omicron variant had been detected in the UK so far, although the actual number was likely to be far higher.

Health Secretary Sajid Javid told MPs the estimated current number is "probably closer to 10,000".

Other measures brought in include an instruction for people to work from home where possible from Monday.

The legal requirement to wear face masks will be extended to most public indoor venues from Friday.

However, Johnson said there were exceptions when wearing a mask was not "practical", such as when eating, drinking, exercising or singing.

Previous plans to introduce vaccine passes to access large events in England were abandoned in September.

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