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The Government said it is piloting the safe return of sports spectators at a small number of indoor and outdoor events in late July and early August, with a view to reopening venues to fans, with social distancing, from October 2020.

The pilot events are expected to include two men’s county cricket friendly matches – such as Surrey v Middlesex at The Oval on 26-27 July, the World Snooker Championship at Sheffield’s Crucible Theatre from 31 July and the Glorious Goodwood horse racing festival on 1 August.

Government said there are also likely to be further pilot events for other sports in the lead up to the 1 October return of audiences, in order to “stress-test” its ‘stage five’ guidance on the return of fans to elite sports events.

The guidance includes “tight restrictions on numbers in the short-term”.

Further guidance outlining the licensing obligations for sports stadia and how venue operators must calculate safe capacities in line with social distancing restrictions will be published by the Sports Grounds Safety Authority.

Sports Minister Nigel Huddleston said, “Although it will remain some time before venues are full to capacity, this is a major step in the right direction for the resumption of live spectator sport across the country.”