Prime Minister Boris Johnson is set to confirm the roll out of coronavirus ‘Plan B’ restrictions with vaccine passports likely to be among the proposals for large-scale events including football.
As reported by the Financial Times and other national news outlets, ministers could sign off on the regulations on Wednesday afternoon due to the fears over the threat of the Omicron variant, believed to be more transmissible than Delta, which could lead to the NHS being overwhelmed.
Restrictions likely to be implemented include an order to work from home where possible, as well as vaccine passports in England when attending large events, for which football will fall under.
The Government claim that the move to implement vaccine passports is a method of ensuring fans are not shut out again.
Exemptions will be in place for those under the age of 17 as will those who are unable to get the vaccine for medical purposes.
Johnson has previously said Covid passports may be “appropriate” for “closely-packed crowds”. “It’s just not sensible to rule out completely this kind of option now,” he added, “when we must face the fact that it might still make the difference between keeping businesses open at full capacity or not.”
In a post on Gov.UK outlining Plan B back in September, the Government wrote: “Mandating vaccine-only certification could allow settings that have experienced long periods of closure to remain open, and is preferable to closing venues entirely or re-imposing capacity caps or social distancing.”
Certification would be used for, “outdoor, crowded settings with 4,000 or more attendees where those attendees are likely to be in close proximity to people from other households, such as outdoor festivals; and any settings with 10,000 or more attendees, such as large sports and music stadia.”
The average attendance at Ashton Gate this season has been 16,927 meaning matches would comfortably fall beyond the threshold for restrictions.
Earlier this month, League One club Portsmouth detailed how the likely restrictions would impact crowds of 10,000 or more, meaning Bristol Rovers – whose average attendance has been 6,740 – wouldn’t fall under the regulations.
There have been no restrictions at matches since fans returned in full in August after 15 months of games being played behind closed doors from the end of the 2019/20 season and throughout the 2020/21 EFL campaign.
Brentford confirmed earlier on Wednesday that they will be conducting random spot-checks at the Brentford Community Stadium this weekend for their home game against Watford to determine supporters’ vaccine status.
However, the Premier League club also stated: “At this point, the Club does not intend to (and are not required to) turn fans away if they are unable to show evidence of their Covid-19 status. However, this may be a requirement in the future if mandated by either the Government or Premier League.”
On Wednesday, Mayor of Bristol Marvin Rees confirmed that Public Health England had identified Omicron in an unnamed resident of Bristol for the first time.
Bristol City are away at Hull City in the Championship this Saturday but then have a home fixture against Huddersfield on December 18 before travelling to Luton Town’s Kenilworth Road on Boxing Day.
Manager Nigel Pearson has returned to conducting all pre-match press conferences via Zoom since taking a second leave of absence this season in November for a Covid-related condition having also contracted the virus in 2020.