Oliver Dowden, the secretary of state for the Department of Digital, Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS), said major events including the FA Cup final at Wembley in May are being lined up as pilots to help pave the way for fans and audiences to return this summer without social distancing.

The DCMS said the FA Cup Final on 15 May at the 98,000-capacity Wembley Stadium could potentially take place in front of 20,000 fans,  the World Snooker Championship, which is due to begin on 17 April, could also be among a series of pilot events to test the return of audiences to venues.

Under Step 2 of the Government’s conditional reopening roadmap, announced by Boris Johnson on 22 February, event pilots could begin to be staged no earlier than 12 April. It states that seated audiences of up to 10,000 could be accommodated in stadiums from Step 3, which is scheduled to start on 17 May.

DCMS said it will stage around a dozen pilot sporting and cultural events in spring. The pilots are part of the Government’s Events Research Programme that has been set up to gather data ahead of  Stage 4 of the roadmap, which could see the end of all limits on events and social distancing measures on 21 June.

Dowden said, “These test events will be crucial in finding ways to get fans and audiences back in safely without social distancing.

“We will be guided by the science and medical experts but will work flat out to make that happen.

“We want to get the people back to enjoying what they love and ensure some of our most important growth industries get back on their feet.”