Local lockdown measures to make Premier League statement irrelevant for Newcastle United fans
Newcastle United fans hoped to be back inside St James Park from the start of October.
The Government giving the go ahead for trials throughout September at various sporting arenas, including Premier League stadiums, with limited numbers of fans allowed in, in order to test virus safety measures ahead of supporters being allowed into grounds across the board.
It was widely reported that the intention initially was for up to 30% of capacity to be allowed and indeed Newcastle United confirmed last weekend that their planning was based around 20% to 30% (10,000 – 15,000) of St James Park seats being filled, once the Government gives the go ahead.
However, with the number of virus cases increasing in England, the Government reined back in on the trials. Whilst 2,500 fans had attended a Brighton v Chelsea friendly earlier this month, a new limit of 1,000 maximum was declared recently by the Government, for any sporting arena that still went ahead with trials.
A number of lower division clubs are this weekend going ahead with plans to have 1,000 fans at their matches.
The Premier League had declared that having such low numbers for a trial in their stadiums would be meaningless and only cost them money.
Wednesday though brought a new Premier League statement that revealed they and other sporting bodies had met with the Government to press their case for higher numbers of fans to be allowed in as a financial necessity, once given the go ahead. Government ministers having already said on the record this month that despite the worsening virus situation, the aim was still to allow spectators back into sporting arenas as from October, so long as the trials went ok.
The Premier League statement indicating that the talks had been positive with the Government and would be ongoing.
However, Wednesday’s Premier League statement was swiftly followed by breaking news in the north east.
The Chronicle revealing that new local lockdown measures are set to be announced for Newcastle, Northumberland, North Tyneside, South Tyneside, Gateshead, County Durham and Sunderland.
The newspaper saying that their information is that the new measures will include a ban on socialising with anyone outside your household, whether in a private household or any public place. So you are not allowed to mix with even family, unless they live in the same house as you.
The report going on to say that the likes of pubs and restaurants will stay open in the north east BUT once again, you can only visit them with people who live in your house. Though a curfew of 10pm with apply to all licensed premises.
People won’t be able to go on holiday with people from different households and also advised to avoid public transport at peak times, except for essential journeys, also to avoid car shares.
Whilst especially pertinent for ourselves, no spectators allowed to attend sporting venues in the north east until further notice. Which of course would rule out for definite any Newcastle United fans attending the Burnley match at St James Park currently scheduled for Saturday 3 October, even if the Premier League do get the go ahead to allow a certain percentage of fans back into stadiums. If this is indeed the case and applies to all sporting venues in the north east, you have to feel especially sorry for the small non-league clubs who have been able to allow limited numbers of fans this month, as pretty much all their cash comes from people going to games.
Appearing on the Peston show last night, Housing Secretary Robert Jenrick confirmed that there will be an announcement today (Thursday) and that the lockdown measures will come into effect from midnight tonight.
The aim of the measures set to be announced, claimed to be in order to try and avoid the more full-on lockdown we saw earlier this year.
“The number of cases have been rising rapidly in many parts of the country but in particular the North East, so a decision has been made to impose further restrictions there.
“An announcement will be made on Thursday so people living in that part of the country should watch out for that and the measures will come into play at midnight on Thursday evening.
“Over the course of the day (Thursday) a full briefing will be made available for everybody, including the councils and the business community.”
Reports elsewhere have said that Matt Hancock will be making the announcement this morning, when we will hear formally, exactly what restrictions there will be in our lives.
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