FA Cup: Man Utd drawn against Leicester in quarter finals
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The May 15 cup final and the World Snooker Championships in Sheffield’s Crucible are among around a dozen events this spring which will be closely studied so venues across the country can welcome back audiences when lockdown restrictions are lifted. The Government’s Events Research Programme (ERP) will scrutinise scientific data from the pilot tests to identify how sports stadiums, comedy clubs, theatres, wedding venues and other locations can safely host crowds.
Culture Secretary Oliver Dowden said: “These test events will be crucial in finding ways to get fans and audiences back in safely without social distancing. We will be guided by the science and medical experts, but will work flat out to make that happen.
“We want to get the people back to enjoying what they love and ensure some of our most important growth industries get back on their feet. These are important steps towards the safe and special summer we all crave and that I’m fully focused on delivering.”
The return of large and small scale events is part of the fourth stage of Boris Johnson’s “road map” out of lockdown, which the Government insists will start “no earlier than June 21”.
The pilots will be studied to see the impact of factors such as venue lay-out, face-coverings and ventilation.
In order to build up an evidence base, at some of pilots there will be spectators and fans who are not socially distanced. However, “carefully controlled medical supervision” is promised.
People attending the events will be required to have a negative test beforehand, and they will also be tested afterwards to ensure any transmission of the virus is properly monitored. Contact details for everyone in a group must be provided for NHS Test and Trace.
They will have to stick to an “agreed code of behaviour”, including following existing guidance on wearing masks and obeying specific rules for the event.
Liverpool will also take part in the pilot programme, with events being lined up at a nightclub, a comedy club and a business venue.
Claire McColgan MBE, Liverpool’s director of culture and tourism, said: “Our experience as the pilot city for mass testing means we have the knowledge and infrastructure in place to deliver complicated projects safely, and we really hope we can help provide the evidence needed to ensure the wider sector is able to open across the country in the coming months.”
Researchers will study the effect of factors including the length of events, transport, food and alcohol, with the ERP planning to produce a report for ministers by the end of May.
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