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Fans allowed back into English sports events from next week

LONDON, July 18, (AP): Spectators will be allowed back into some sports events in England from next week as coronavirus prevention measures are tested ahead of a planned wider reopening of stadiums in October. Domestic cricket on July 26- 27 is set to be the first sport that fans are allowed to watch in person since March.

Leicester’s Jamie Vardy (right), kicks the ball during the English Premier League soccer match between Leicester City and Sheffield United at the King Power Stadium, in Leicester, England on July 16. (AP)

Some spectators will also be allowed into the world snooker championship in Sheffield from July 31, and the Glorious Goodwood horse racing festival on Aug 1 is also part of a government scheme piloting the return of fans. “From October we intend to bring back audiences in stadia … in a COVID-secure way subject to the successful outcome of pilots,” British Prime Minister Boris Johnson said in Downing Street on Friday. Prof Susan Michie, who advises the government on the pandemic response, fears reopening sports to fans – particularly indoor venues – could lead to a rise in virus cases and another lockdown.

“We’ve gone too far, too fast already,” Michie said in an interview. “I think the data will begin to show that. I don’t think we should have opened indoor pubs, much as I like pubs. And I think to begin opening up mass sporting events is not a good idea.”

Stadium capacities will still be restricted, and staggered entry times, social distancing measures and one-way systems will be required. Barriers or screens will have to be installed where social distancing cannot be maintained when buying food and merchandise or betting. Fans will be told not to attend if they could have been exposed to COVID-19. “With the excitement of sport, where people are standing up,” Michie said, “I don’t think social distancing would happen

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