Covid vaccine passports: Premier League matches and large events could be open only to double-jabbed

Aston Villa fans during the pre-season friendly match at the bet365 Stadium, Stoke-on-Trent. Credit: Nick Potts/PA

Football fans attending Premier League games and other large football matches may need to be fully vaccinated.

The government is in talks about whether large events with more than 20,000 attendees will need to use Covid vaccine passports, according to PA news agency. The plans could be extended to lower divisions and other sports in England.

In unseated events such as music gigs, the threshold for vaccine passports could be as low as 5,000 attendees due to greater concerns about strangers mingling.

Nightclubs and other venues where large crowds gather have already been told they will need to use vaccine passports from the end of September.

Ministers are also understood to be discussing whether a recent negative Covid-19 test could allow entry to football matches, although their use has been ruled out for nightclubs.

A government source said: “It’s important that fans can continue to watch sporting events over the autumn, which is why we’re exploring the role vaccines might play in this.

“This will not only allow full capacity stadiums but has the added bonus of incentivising people of all ages to go and get their jab.”

Another source told ITV News there are talks between the government, football bodies an clubs about the possible use of Covid vaccine passports, as well as contingency plans.

They added it is unlikely there will be fully enforced checks everywhere at the start of the Premier League season and the checks may be introduced gradually instead.

'I'm not denying because we don't yet know,' Crime and policing minister Kit Malthouse said about plans to introduce vaccine passports at football matches

Crime and policing minister Kit Malthouse called the reports of vaccine passports at football matches "speculation" but did not deny them.

He said: "I'm not denying because we don't yet know. And some of the assessment work that needs to be done, for example, around the Euro football matches and what the impact was on the contagion of the virus coming out of those gatherings, particularly for younger people, who we know were unvaccinated.

"We also are starting to understand that even if you're double vaccinated you can still carry the virus. Look at the health secretary for example."

Asked if vaccine passports were a way to try and force people to get jabbed, Mr Malthouse said: "No absolutely not. But we would strongly encourage everybody to go and get jabbed.

"It's just the way that we will fundamentally get our freedom completely back."

The majority of football fans would be willing to accept vaccine passports, says Malcolm Clarke, chair of the Football Supporters' Association

Malcolm Clarke, chair of the Football Supporters' Association, said he believes the majority of football fans would be willing to accept vaccine passports, but stressed there are a range of views.

He said fans should be consulted about any proposals for vaccine passports at national and club level.

Mr Clarke told ITV News: "There has to be communication, there has to be plenty of notice and there has to be a level of staffing and arrangements outside the grounds that will enable this to happen smoothly without long queues and the kind of chaos that we've seen recently at Wembley."

He continued: "We won't be pleased if we're not involved in the discussions and difficulties and chaos ensue."

The Football Supporters' Association chair added the government should take into account the financial impact on smaller clubs and clubs should ensure season ticket holders who cannot comply with vaccine passport checks are able to get a refund as is their right under consumer laws.

Shadow sports secretary Jo Stevens said: “To insist on vaccine passports less than a month before the start of the season will cause major disruptions, especially for clubs at the lower end of the pyramid.

The Welsh Government says it is aiming to make clubs and events safer with the passes. Credit: PA Images

“Labour has been clear that the use of Covid vaccination status alone will exclude those who can’t be vaccinated or haven’t had the jab because of delays.

“Being double jabbed doesn’t prove you aren’t carrying the virus. Testing for access to venues would be more efficient.”

Many backbench Tories are however against the idea of vaccine passports and could block the efforts to make it the law.

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Senior Conservative Tom Tugendhat, the chair of the Foreign Affairs committee, said: “Vaccine passports risk a social credit system of control.

“If we need a vaccine for events like a party conference or a nightclub – why not to travel by a train, or go to a university lecture or a shop? What other choices will result in denial of service?”

The English Football League declined to comment, but it is understood contingency plans have been under discussion.