The UK government’s ‘Plan B’ measures were in full effect on Wednesday night as the Premier League looked to minimise the threat of coronavirus spreading.
Fans attending matches must complete a declaration to confirm they have had double vaccination or a negative Covid test before they arrive at stadiums, under Plan B arrangements.
The top flight has issued detailed guidance for fans, who will also have to show their NHS Covid Pass or proof of a negative test when they arrive at stadiums from tonight.
And that was evident on Wednesday night ahead of Arsenal’s clash with London rivals West Ham.
Fans arriving at the Emirates were pictured having to show their NHS Covid Pass to be allowed access into the ground ahead of the 8pm fixture.
Fans at the Emirates had to show their Covid Pass to be allowed to enter Arsenal vs West Ham
A Crystal Palace fan shows proof of his vaccination status before entrance to Selhurst Park
Brighton fans also did the same as they prepared to enter the AMEX Stadium on Wednesday
The same was in place at Selhurst Park where Crystal Palace took on Southampton (7.30pm kick-off) and at the AMEX Stadium where Brighton entertained Wolves (7.30pm kick-off).
A minimum of 20 per cent of fans will have their Covid pass checked at each stadium, but it could be higher at some venues. Clubs have to agree the level of spot checks with local authorities, which are keen to avoid congestion outside grounds where the virus could be spread.
The rules, which only came into force this morning, following a rancorous vote in Parliament last night, do not apply to anyone under the age of 18.
They have been drawn up in response to a ‘tidal wave’ of infection caused by the Omicron variant.
Tottenham had a coronavirus outbreak this week but returned to training on Sunday
PLAN B BACKLASH
Controversial Plan B measures scraped through Parliament last night after a huge revolt by Conservative MPs.
Prime Minister Boris Johnson was hit with a massive Commons rebellion by 100 of his own MPs.
The measures were only passed with support from Labour after the revolt from all parts of parliamentary party.
Johnson has been forced to promise that Parliament will be recalled if more curbs needed over Christmas.
While some Premier League clubs have been conducting voluntarily checks on Covid passes this season, the top flight is stressing that these inspections are required by law and anyone unable to comply will not be allowed into the stadium.
The Premier League has worked steadily for more than six months to prepare for the resurgence of Covid-19 in order to keep games on and fans in stadiums. While mindful of the challenge, officials say they are as confident as they can be that they have everything in place to keep players, staff and supporters safe.
The league and clubs are working closely with local public health authorities and will track any infection after matches to be sure football is not fuelling the spread of the virus.
While not practical to check every fan entering a stadium, experts believe that it is also unnecessary since trials during the Government’s Events Research Programme found a high level of compliance where spot checks were in force.
It is the quality of the checks, not the quantity that appears to be important. Clubs will be required to conduct their checks in all areas of the stadium and right up to kick off.
In addition, the Premier League has reintroduced the emergency measures developed last season to reduce the risk of spread within clubs. This includes social distancing, limiting access to certain area and treatments, as well as mask wearing.
Premier League clubs are now testing players up to nine times a week, with a lateral flow test each day and two PCR tests.
Aston Villa are another club who have suffered from coronavirus outbreaks over the weekend
Premier League has been preparing for a resurgence in Covid-19 for over six months
Every fan attending a Premier League game from Wednesday night will have their Covid status ready to be checked outside the stadium
WEDNESDAY’S TOP FLIGHT FIXTURES
Brighton v Wolves
Burnley v Watford (postponed)
Crystal Palace v Southampton
Arsenal v West Ham United
The Plan B measures apply to supporters in large stadiums with a capacity of 10,000 or more and will be in force at the three top flight matches scheduled for Wednesday evening and all the games that follow.
Supporters have also been told they must wear masks in indoor areas of the stadium and stewards will be on hand to enforce the rules.
Signs are being put up in grounds to indicate where fans are legally required to wear a mask, but food and drink concessions will be open. Masks are not mandatory in the stadium bowl, but encouraged.
The clubs and Premier League are expecting most fans to support the new measures, since they are now legally enforceable and survey data suggests the vast majority welcome measures to keep them safe.
Meanwhile, Sportsmail understands a number of clubs have asked the Premier League to postpone fixtures due to Covid outbreaks in their squads in recent weeks.
Premier League’s festive schedule is under threat from coronavirus after clubs – including Manchester United (above) – reported outbreaks but measures are in place to limit the spread
Clubs are desperate to do all they can to keep fans safe and ensure they can still attend games
Fans will need to show a Covid pass confirming double vaccination or a negative later flow test
Tottenham, Manchester United, Aston Villa, Norwich and Brighton have all reported cases. On Wednesday evening the Premier League postponed Burnley’s game against Watford – which was due to kick-off later that evening – after a Covid-19 outbreak in the visiting team.
According to the Premier League handbook clubs are required to fulfil fixtures if they have 14 players or more available. However, there are additional considerations, including where an outbreak is deemed to be out of control by medical staff.
It is understood this was the case in relation to Manchester United, when an outbreak led to the closure of the training ground and subsequent postponement of the Red Devils’ match at Brentford.
Previously, Tottenham Hotspur’s game at Brighton was postponed after a Covid outbreak at Spurs.
Until now, spot checks on vaccination status have been undertaken by clubs voluntarily
Premier League Chief Executive Richard Masters said: ‘We are doing all we can to keep fans safe and grounds open at full capacity.
‘The safety of everyone remains our priority and since the start of the season we have been working closely with our clubs, Government and local public health authorities to prepare fans and stadium operations for the introduction of COVID certification.
‘It is really important fans take the time to understand what is required of them when attending Premier League stadiums, which is why we are asking fans to declare their COVID status ahead of a matchday.
‘We want everyone to enjoy matches in safe environments and we and our clubs will continue to urge fans to do all they can and follow public health guidance.’