Any venue that is located in an area with the lowest infection rates across the country will be allowed to welcome up to 4,000 fans to events in what will be a tiered return to sporting venues.
Areas subjected to Tier 2 restrictions will be allowed up to 2,000 supporters in attendance, while those subjected to the harshest restrictions in tier 3 will be forced to remain closed off from the public until the region’s coronavirus numbers are brought under control.
The new restrictions, which will be introduced from the end of lockdown on 2 December, will be in place until the end of March, with tiers reviewed by law every 14 days, Johnson has confirmed.
Johnson said that "in Tiers 1 and 2, spectator sports will be free to resume inside and outside with capacity limits and social distancing providing."
The ban on grassroots sport has also been lifted across all tiers, meaning all outdoors sports can resume from 2 December as long as they meet the new guidelines.
Indoor venues in tier one areas will be allowed a maximum attendance of 2,000, with tier two events open to 1,000 fans or 50 per cent capacity, depending on the size of the venue. As with outdoor regulations, indoor venues in tier three area will remain banned from having any fans in attendance.
Leading authorities across a majority of sports have been pressuring the government to produce a road map outlining the return of supporters to events across the country, having scrapped the initial plan that was due to kick in on 1 October. The coronavirus pandemic has devastated the sports industry through the complete absence of supporters and crucial matchday income since March, leaving a number of clubs, organisations and sports facing desperate times ahead unless they can welcome fans in the near future.
But with the second national lockdown due to end next Wednesday, Johnson has announced that the re-introduction of fans can begin from 2 December in what is a major boost towards the financial future of the sporting industry.
The news comes just days after the government provided a £300m ‘Sports Winter Survival Package’ to aid those who stand to lose the most during the next four months. Rugby union is set to receive £135m for the Premiership, Rugby Football Union, Championship and lower leagues, while racecourses across the country will also be helped with £40m allocated to horse racing.
Football will benefit from a £28m boost across the National League, lower leagues and women’s game, although there is no support for the struggling English Football League as they remain in talks with the Premier League over a financial bailout for clubs in the Championship, League One and League Two.
The remaining sports that will benefit from the bailout includes rugby league (£12m), motorsport (£6m) and tennis (£5m), while netball, basketball, ice hockey, badminton and greyhound racing will share out £15m based on their individual allocations.