Government is in talks with football chiefs and due to make an announcement before the season begins
Coronavirus vaccine passports are to be introduced at football matches from October – potentially putting hundreds of thousands of Premier League fans at risk of being refused entry to stadiums, reports suggest.
Ministers are thought to be in the process of finalising plans to make double vaccination status a mandatory requirement for supporters attending matches, according to both the Daily Telegraph and the Mirror, as part of the drive to keep the country moving in the run up to Christmas.
The move will allegedly extend to the autumn rugby internationals, major concerts, and spectator events of 20,000 or more in what is considered the latest step in Boris Johnson’s plan to encourage all adults in the UK to get both doses of a vaccine.
Earlier this week, it was announced that by the end of September the passports will be compulsory for crowded venues in England – including nightclubs.
All 92 professional football clubs in England are set to be affected by the incoming policy, sparking financial concerns for lower-league teams who rely on match day cash to make a profit.
It comes amid proposals to ramp up a social media campaign aimed at boosting uptake among 18- to 30-year-olds, stressing the link between inoculation and the ability to go on holiday, as three million of them are yet to receive a single dose.
England manager Gareth Southgate on Saturday shared a video message, encouraging young people to get vaccinated. “We know the last 18 months have been incredibly difficult for everybody and there’s no doubt that the vaccination programme is our best route out of this problem,” he said.
“So, I just wanted to say how important it is [and] if you haven’t had your vaccine yet to get and get it done.”
The shadow sport secretary last night criticised the Tories’ “disruptive” plans, blaming the government’s indecisiveness for the lack of a strategy for businesses.
“To insist on vaccine passports less than a month before the start of the season will cause major disruption, especially at the lower end of the pyramid,” Jo Stevens said. “The government has chopped and changed their advice, making it impossible for people and businesses to plan.”
The revelation comes after vaccines minister Nadhim Zahawi said this week that widening the passport scheme was the “right thing to do”. He said venues – including sports stadiums – could, and should, insist on proof of double vaccination.
“Talks are taking place between the departments and the Premier League who are keen on this idea,” an unnamed government source reportedly told the Mirror on Friday. “No decision has been made yet.”