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Fans return for sporting events in England

For the first time since the coronavirus outbreak and the subsequent government lockdown, spectators have been allowed to attend a cricket match in person again on Sunday.

Whilst the Premier League season was being played to a climax, and England and the West Indies were contesting the Third Test at Old Trafford behind closed doors, Surrey and Middlesex were playing each other at the Oval in front of a thousand people at the Oval in South London.

The Oval has a capacity of 25000 spectators, but only 1000 people were allowed into the ground (although Surrey officials said that they had demand for tickets from ten times that number). 

Only two stands of the ground were open, and fans had to sit in alternate rows with an empty seat between them and the next person, although family groups were allowed to sit together, up to a maximum of six.

Advisory signs were prominently displayed to remind everybody of the rules on social distancing.

The match is one of a selected group of sporting events which has been used to pilot the return of fans to grounds and stadiums again. Amongst others are the flat horse race meeting at Goodwood in Sussex and the rescheduled snooker world championship in Sheffield.

The results will be carefully monitored, and, if it can be proved that there are no subsequent increase in the number of people who contract the coronavirus, it could pave the way for a full return of the fans, with the UK government putting a preliminary timetable of October on that.

All this comes at a time when the British government has admitted for the first time that it made mistakes in its initial response to the virus. 

They include allowing fans to attend the Cheltenham Race Festival and the Liverpool – Atlético Madrid Champions League match back in March, just before the lockdown, both of which events have been linked with an increased incidence of Covid-19 cases and subsequent deaths from those in attendance.

Prime Minister Boris Johnson has acknowledged that his administration had failed to understand the virus and its potential threat, and that they were still learning about it.

Shantanu Gupta predominantly writes for the sister sites of Inplay Cricket India, Inplay Sports India and Indian Cricket World. Having grown up around the intense rivalries of cricket Shantanu took to a journalistic career in following the sport whilst also remaining mindful of other key sports of interest to Indian sports fans. You’ll see him not only writing about cricket but also covering football, tennis and more.

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