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Fans expected to be allowed to return to Premier League stadiums starting in September

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Steps taken forward

Chelsea FC v Wolverhampton Wanderers - Premier League Photo by Mike Hewitt/Getty Images

After two months of initially semiweekly, then later weekly testing, the Premier League’s COVID-19 testing came to an end alongside the season itself with zero positive results from 1574.

Overall, 22133 tests were administered across 15 rounds, with only 20 positive results — a rate of under 0.1%. Project Restart was most certainly a success in this regard.

In the outside world, the infection rates and hospitalization rates have also been dropping or at least trending down in most of Europe as well. Accordingly, lockdown measure have been slowly easing as well. In some countries, like Slovakia for example, fans are even allowed to attend matches in person once again, albeit in limited numbers.

England could follow suit soon as well, after the government announced their latest easing on Thursday, with Primer Minister Boris Johnson stating his wish to see “more people to return to work and the public to get back to more of the things they have missed”.

According to reports, those things will include football matches, starting “next month” after pilot events run for snooker, rugby, and racing. A “large-scale rollout” in football won’t be expected until October — provided everything goes well until then — and will include various safety measures, such as reduced capacities, face-coverings, and other anti-crowding provisions. Fans attending will have to sign waivers stating that they’re symptom free, though temperature-checking stations would surely not go amiss either.

A more controversial measure might be a ban on (or at least a strong advisory against) chanting and shouting, which is another thing we’re seeing in other countries, but is unlikely to go down well with the match-going public, especially when stoked by reports such as the Mail’s.

Such things are of course impossible to enforce, and crowds can still celebrate, but chanting and singing is a great way to spread your droplets around, which is why it’s being discouraged.

So it still won’t be the “real thing” — and, as discussed many times before, won’t be until widespread vaccinations — but should be an important step back towards it.

That is, unless a second spike arrives, just as it has in many places, including most obviously in the USA — or local conditions don’t improve as well as elsewhere in the country, such as in England’s North East region.

“[We] will not hesitate to put on the brakes if required, or to continue to implement local measures to help to control the spread of the virus”.

-Boris Johnson; source: BBC