Arsenal have emailed season ticket holders to confirm the Covid-19 protocols that will be in place from Wednesday at Emirates Stadium.
Last week, the UK government announced that attendees to any venue with a capacity of at least 10,000 must bring either a valid Covid Pass or proof of a negative lateral flow/PCR test (taken within 48 hours) to gain entry. Failure to produce either when requested will result in entry being refused.
As of last Friday, it is also mandatory for masks to be worn indoors at such venues, although nobody seemed to police this on Saturday.
In line with Premier League requirements, Arsenal are also asking all season ticket holders, via the aforementioned email, to declare in advance of the West Ham game that they will bring all the necessary documentation on Wednesday and for future matches.
It’s not entirely clear at this point, how Arsenal plan to enforce the rules. We speculated last week as to whether passes / test results will just need to be shown or if they will be scanned by club officials.
Interestingly, the club’s email warns “spot-checks will also increase significantly on a matchday” which sort of suggests they aren’t planning to try and rigorously check everyone. You can make your own mind up whether that is good (less hassle) or bad (it undermines the point of having the rules).
Queues are forecast so the advice is to arrive earlier than normal if you want to make kick-off.
Looking further down the line, Health Secretary Sajid Javid has given the first indication that Covid Passes will only be valid in the future if you’ve had a booster jab. Rather ambitiously, the NHS has been tasked with administering third jabs to every adult in England who wants one before the end of 2021.
Big: Sajid Javid tells MPs Covid passes will not be valid unless holders have had two jabs and a booster, rather than just two jabs, "once all adults have had a reasonable chance to get their booster jab".
— Patrick Maguire (@patrickkmaguire) December 13, 2021
All this comes against the backdrop of an increase in positive Covid tests amongst Premier League clubs’ players and staff. 42 positives were recorded last week, up from 12 the week before.
The Athletic (£) report this evening that some Arsenal staff at London Colney are amongst those who’ve tested positive and that players must now undertake tests in their car when they arrive. Social distancing is also being enforced under guidance from the Premier League.
After Sp*rs successfully appealed for their match at Brighton to be called off following an outbreak in their camp, Antonio Conte’s players are now back in training. Unfortunately, their experience was not unique, Manchester United are now unsure whether it is “safe” for their trip to Brentford to go ahead tomorrow after some of their players tested positive for Covid-19.
Given the rapid spread of the Omicron variant in the UK, it looks like the festive schedule could get very messy. All the while, the prospect of a return to behind-closed-doors matches looms large.
For details on how to get your Covid pass, see here.