Supporters will be allowed to drink alcohol without ordering a substantial meal when football stadiums reopen on Wednesday – but only if they are seated in concourses or hospitality areas.
Updated guidance, issued by the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport in connection with the Sports Grounds Safety Authority, also requires each club to produce a code of conduct for spectators, including the wearing of face coverings on entry and in concourses, queues and toilets.
“Given the higher risk of transmission associated with singing and shouting, event organisers should remind spectators of this and strongly therefore encourage the use of face coverings in all outdoor spectator settings, including seats/standing points,” the guidance states.
Drinks will not be permitted in seats in the stands but stadiums will be allowed to provide temporary seats in concourses.
A number of EFL clubs will welcome back fans on Wednesday, with supporters returning to Premier League grounds from Thursday. These are in tier 2 areas, where stadium rules will be 50% of capacity or 2,000 – whichever is smaller.
Clubs can be stricter with their rules if they wish. Wycombe have chosen to cap the attendance at 1,000 for their first match – the Championship game against Stoke on Wednesday – and have told returning spectators: “Avoid hugs, high fives, handshakes, or other close contact with people who are not in your social bubble. Take care when singing, chanting, or celebrating.”
Government guidance hints that one-off exemptions from the current limits could be made, subject to government approval, if the coronavirus rate drops. The new rules state: “Exceptions – any government-endorsed test events will be subject to different arrangements and capacity calculations.”
However insiders have told the Guardian that while there is a desire in government for test events with more spectators in the new year, there is no fixed pathway or plan in place for it to happen.
For sports held indoors, there will be a limit of 1,000 spectators in tiers 1 and 2. “Singing and shouting is to be discouraged at indoor sports events,” government guidance says.