How will Covid 'Plan B' affect Ipswich Town's festive fixtures?
- Credit: Steve Waller - www.stephenwaller.com
Stricter Covid rules have been put in place to slow the spread of the Omicron variant in England, but how will they affect Town fans attending matches at Portman Road?
On Wednesday, Prime Minister Boris Johnson announced a number of new coronavirus restrictions — called 'Plan B'. These include vaccine passports for events with large crowds and mask wearing in public areas.
These restrictions could impact Town, who are preparing to host bumper crowds of up to 30,000 fans at Portman Road this Christmas as part of a festive ticket offering.
Here's everything supporters need to know about the new measures in 'Plan B'.
Will I need to show a vaccine passport to get into Portman Road?
As part of the new rules which are set to come into effect from next Wednesday, entrants to outdoor events with 10,000 or more people will need to show proof of double vaccination or a recent negative test.
This is almost certain to include Town matches, which have attracted crowds of more than 20,000 on multiple occasions this season.
However, the club have been already asking for proof of vaccine status or negative tests since the start of the campaign — so regular match-goers may not see much change in that respect.
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Rules on mask-wearing in most indoor settings — which includes on the stadium concourse — will be reintroduced from today (Friday, December 10).
How do I prove my vaccine status?
The NHS Covid pass is available via an app, but Town have been accepting proof of vaccination through the cards given out when people receive their jabs.
If you have not had the vaccine, you can instead show proof of a recent negative lateral flow test.
However, the stick used in the tests will not be accepted.
Do the new rules apply to children?
Town have been asking under-18s to show proof of one dose of vaccination, while the club is awaiting clarification from the English Football League on rules for under-11s.
What has the manager said of the measures?
Interim boss John McGreal spoke about the new rules in a press conference — saying fans' safety is "more important than anything".
He said: "I’ve watched games at Portman Road this season and I’ve needed to show my Covid passport to get into games and from what I know, we’re not going to change.
"From day one, we’ve stuck to all the protocols. Even in the building here (at the training ground) we’ve worked in bubbles and travelled to games on two different coaches. The clubs here have been absolutely excellent.
"We’ll be dotting the Is and crossing the Ts to the government protocols because we want everyone to be safe. "
McGreal also said he hoped the new measures would reduce the prospect of returning to playing games behind closed doors.
He added: "None of us want to fall back into that bracket again.
"The club is right on the money for it all, have been excellent from day one, and if things need to be changed the club will be straight on to change it.
"Safety is more important than anything."