“New Normal”: Sports Fans Could Be Banned From Drinking and Encouraged to Stamp, Not Cheer

A member of SAGE has suggested that the Government should learn from the Black Lives Matter movement in how to make mask-wearing and social distancing “an inherent part” of attending sports events, as plans are being drawn up to ban drinking and encourage stamping and clapping rather than cheering at large events. The Times has the story.

Sports fans could be banned from drinking and encouraged to stamp and clap instead of cheering under plans to make mass events safe for the summer.

As British cities prepare to host football’s European Championships, tests are under way to discover whether it is better for social distancing to ban alcohol or to serve fans pints in their seats to prevent crowding at bars.

Ministers have accepted that testing before entry is likely to be required to make concerts, festivals and sporting fixtures safe even after all restrictions are lifted on June 21st. They are debating which elements of social distancing and Covid-secure rules will need to remain in place beyond that date…

Boris Johnson is keen to take a cautious approach to reopening and pilots are taking place to see which mitigation measures will need to be retained at concerts, nightclubs and stadiums.

The use of masks, physical distancing, hugs and handshakes, singing and the sharing of food and drink are all being monitored using CCTV and wearable devices. Different levels of social distancing rules and ventilation are also being trialled, with participants being tested five days later…

Professor Dame Theresa Marteau of the University of Cambridge, a behavioural scientist and member of SAGE, is chairing the scientific group overseeing the test events. In a scientific paper published just before they began, she argued it would be essential to create “new norms” for sports and music fans. “While it is a basic norm of many sports crowds that people express passionate support for their team, and without that the whole activity has little meaning… it may be possible to develop new and distinctive ways of expressing that passion (stamping, clapping, etc) that are of lower risk than shouting or singing,” she wrote.

She suggested learning from the Black Lives Matter movement in how to weave Covid-secure messages into the fabric of sporting events – making social distancing and mask-wearing “an inherent part” of what it means to be a fan of a team. However, she emphasised this would need to be developed in partnership with fans rather than imposed by the Government.

Players and pop stars should be encouraged to “scrupulously observe restrictions such as not hugging each other after a success” to reinforce the message, she suggested.

Worth reading in full.

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