The plan for fans to return to live sport from 1 October will not go ahead, according to cabinet office minister Michael Gove.

Plans had previously been put in place to run some pilot live sport events with 1,000-capacity audiences. These have now been called off, as the UK re-enters Covid-19 alert level four, meaning cases are ‘high or rising exponentially’.

Speaking to BBC Breakfast, Gove said: “We were looking at a staged programme of more people returning – it wasn’t going to be the case that we were going to have stadiums thronged with fans.

“We’re looking at how we can, for the moment, pause that programme, but what we do want to do is to make sure that, as and when circumstances allow, we get more people back. The virus is less likely to spread outdoors than indoors but again it’s in the nature of major sporting events that there’s a lot of mingling.”

Among the events that were set to run 1,000 capacity pilots were the Rugby Union match between Gloucester and Harlequins, the League Two football match between Cambridge United and Carlisle United and a series of T20 cricket matches.

The pilot events were intended for sport organisations and venue operators to understand the conditions, facilities and processes needed for the safe return of sport events during the pandemic.

These will now be pushed back to an unspecified date.