Facemasks and social distancing to be axed at events looking at how to ease lockdown

Facemasks and social distancing are to be axed at events which will look at how to ease lockdown long-term.

The Events Research Programme, which will examine ways of reopening mass-attendance venues safely, is to test the measures at a number of upcoming pilot events, including the FA Cup Final. 

The football season-ending showpiece next month, its two preceding semi-finals and the League Cup Final are all included in the plan, to establish how best to minimise the risk of Covid transmission in larger crowds. 

Guidance released by the Department of Digital, Culture, Media and Sport on Friday revealed that Covid ‘certificates’ will not be used.  

Instead fans travelling to Wembley for the final on May 15 – which will take place with 21,000 spectators – will have to provide evidence of a recent negative Covid test and take tests afterwards.

Furthermore, plans involve scrapping ‘non-pharmaceutical interventions’ (NPIs), which are actions which have been used to mitigate the virus, such as masks and social distancing.  

Face masks will not be required under pilot plans made by the Events Research Programme

Face masks will not be required under pilot plans made by the Events Research Programme

Face masks will not be required under pilot plans made by the Events Research Programme

Crowds enjoyed the Australian Open tennis tournament in Melbourne in February without wearing face coverings

Crowds enjoyed the Australian Open tennis tournament in Melbourne in February without wearing face coverings

Crowds enjoyed the Australian Open tennis tournament in Melbourne in February without wearing face coverings

Fans travelling to Wembley for the final on May 15 - which will take place with 21,000 spectators - will have to provide evidence of a recent negative Covid test and take tests afterwards.

Fans travelling to Wembley for the final on May 15 - which will take place with 21,000 spectators - will have to provide evidence of a recent negative Covid test and take tests afterwards.

Fans travelling to Wembley for the final on May 15 – which will take place with 21,000 spectators – will have to provide evidence of a recent negative Covid test and take tests afterwards.

The guidance says: ‘The ERP will look at a range of mitigating factors including test-on-entry protocols for use in determining how we can reopen larger venues safely.

‘These protocols will be used in combination with the suspension of NPIs (face coverings, social distancing) to test what works best to achieve the aim of returning greater numbers of fans back to indoor and outdoor venues.’

The announcement prompted speculation that the Prime Minister has caved in over vaccine passports to rebel Tory backbenchers, who had threatened to join Labour to vote down any law governing their introduction, on civil liberties grounds. 

One rebel Tory MP told MailOnline: ‘I think we’ve managed to take the wheels off this plan.’ 

DCMS yesterday published its guidance for the ERP events. As well as the Wembley football matches they include the World Snooker Championship at Sheffield’s Crucible Theatre and a series of events in Liverpool, at a cinema, nightclub and conference centre. 

The guidance adds: ‘There will be no requirement for participants to show proof of vaccine.

‘Participants in the ERP pilots published to date will have to provide a basic Covid certification that they have tested negative for Covid-19.’

The announcement prompted speculation that the Prime Minister (pictured yesterday)  has caved in to rebel Tory backbenchers

The announcement prompted speculation that the Prime Minister (pictured yesterday)  has caved in to rebel Tory backbenchers

The announcement prompted speculation that the Prime Minister (pictured yesterday)  has caved in to rebel Tory backbenchers

It adds: ‘Yes, entry will be subject to a negative test result. In practice this will work in much the same way that international travel has taken place in recent months – entry will be denied to those that cannot provide evidence of a negative test result.’

A Number 10 spokesman today insisted that Covid passports ‘could have an important role to play… and we are continuing to look at how they may operate.’

He declined to comment directly on the pilot schemes, adding: ‘Work is ongoing with groups and other experts in this area as we consider all the evidence to ensure that if or when we do introduce any such schemes we have taken into account all of the things we have spoken about in terms of the moral implications of any scheme.

‘The Prime Minister has set out that they won’t play a part in the opening of stages two and three but it is something we continue to work on and we continue to look at the evidence.’  

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