Silverstone Circuit backs use of 'Covid passports' to allow full return of fans this summer

Northamptonshire track joins leading sports bodies in letter to main political parties leaders

Friday, 9th April 2021, 12:44 pm
Updated Friday, 9th April 2021, 12:46 pm

Silverstone Circuit has backed the use of 'coronavirus passports' to help with the full, unrestricted return of fans to sporting venues this summer.

The Northamptonshire track has joined the UK's leading sports organisations in writing to the leaders of the main political parties to support a form of certification.

The signatories 'see the benefits' in a pass to verify a negative coronavirus or antibody test alongside vaccination certification to allow capacity crowds.

Lewis Hamilton celebrates with fans after winning the British Grand Prix at Silverstone in 2019. Photo: Getty Images

"The return of fans will give a huge boost to millions who enjoy a day out at a sporting event with their friends and families and be of great benefit to the economy," the letter reads.

"It is right that every possible action is considered to secure this outcome as soon as possible, but only for as long as an unrestricted return is considered unsafe to fans, matchday staff and the wider public.

"This includes investigating how a Covid certification arrangement could reduce and then safely remove the requirement for social distancing."

The letter has also been signed by the English Football League, the England and Wales Cricket Board, the Football Association, the Lawn Tennis Association, the Premier League, the Rugby Football League, the Rugby Football Union, the Scottish Professional Football League and Wimbledon.

It warns there are many issues to be addressed including how the technology would work and its ease of use at major events, for both attendees and organisers.

And the scheme 'must not be discriminatory, should protect privacy, and have clear exit criteria' or be used in grassroots sport.

Fan are due to be allowed back from May 17, but with an attendance cap of 25 per cent for larger venues with a maximum of 10,000 spectators.

The sporting bodies admitted the May plans will be insufficient to end their unprecedented financial crisis from the lack of supporters since March last year, other than a brief spell in December.

The full return of spectators is hoped from June 21 as part of the government's final step in its roadmap out of lockdown.

"How this can be achieved is being examined by the Events Research Programme (ERP) which is looking at a range of options, including the extent to which social distancing can be relaxed. This work is supported by all of the major sporting bodies," the letter reads.

"All of our sports are committed to working closely with the ERP to explore all of the options that will allow us to swiftly return to full capacities. We also understand that further guidance will be issued by the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport and the Sports Grounds Safety Authority.

"It is important that we have certainty as soon as possible on the form this guidance will take so we can plan efficiently and effectively with many big sporting events scheduled for late June and onwards."

Silverstone is due to host the British Grand Prix in Formula One on July 16-18 and MotoGP on August 27-29 as well as The Classic historic motorsport festival on July 30 to August 1.

A government spokesperson said: "We welcome the constructive approach from major British sports as we explore how testing Covid certification and other steps can help get more fans back into stadiums and other large events safely.

"We want as many fans as possible to be able to enjoy a great British summer of sport, safely."