Fans enjoy ‘freedom day’ but impact of Government’s Covid passport plan unclear

A full house watched the darts while racegoers also enjoyed England’s ‘freedom day’ but there is confusion over how sporting events will be affected by the Government’s latest Covid-19 announcement.

While 2,000 raucous fans packed into Blackpool’s Winter Gardens to watch the World Matchplay darts, Prime Minister Boris Johnson announced that a full vaccination passport will be a requirement for entry to “venues where large crowds gather” from the end of September.

The Racecourse Association has already said it is anticipating a “significant logistical operation” after the latest announcement.

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Other governing bodies such as the Premier League and the England and Wales Cricket Board have yet to comment on how the new rules will affect them going forward.

Nevertheless, the Winter Gardens was the first beneficiary of the lifting of Covid-19 restrictions.

While Wimbledon had capacity crowds for the women’s and men’s finals and Silverstone welcomed 140,000 spectators at the British Grand Prix as part of the Government’s pilot scheme, Monday was the first day all sporting events could host a full house.

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The World Matchplay started on Saturday in front of around 800 spectators, but the venue layout had to be redesigned after Sunday night’s action in order to admit a capacity crowd.

Fans were back at the tables to enjoy the return of the traditional walk-ons and belt out the usual songs with former world champions Michael Van Gerwen and Gary Anderson among those in action.

Racecourses at Windsor, Beverley and Cartmel were also able to fully open their doors for the first time since the pandemic his early last year.