Sports matches with half-full stadiums can be safe, Dutch research shows

Sports matches with half-full stadiums can be safe, Dutch research shows
Credit: Belga

Organising "active outdoor events," such as sports matches, under strict conditions is possible with half or 75% of the stadium's usual spectator capacity, field tests in the Netherlands show.

Fieldlab Evenementen, which has organised several Dutch test events, gave its advice on Wednesday after three trials at football matches, reports the Belga news agency.

According to Fieldlab, in the current coronavirus situation, spectators must wear a mask even when they are seated when 75% of the stadium seats are occupied. With 50% occupancy, the mask is only needed when moving around.

Getting tested, both before and after the event, and using "an app or other kind of access control with a negative coronavirus test," is also necessary, Fieldlab said in a statement.

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With these conditions, if half or three-quarters of the maximum spectator capacity is admitted, the 1.5-metre distance rule can be waived. Additionally, spectators must always be given practical information and be reminded "at all times" to respect the measures.

In all, Fieldlab has drawn up seventeen recommendations concerning behaviour, testing, tracing, "the dynamics of fans," personal protection, risk groups, rapid tests and the risk model.

To arrive at these recommendations, Fieldlab carried out practical tests at three football matches in the Netherlands: NEC Nijmegen vs De Graafschap and Almere City vs Cambuur Leeuwarden, both played in front of 1,500 fans, and the Netherlands vs Latvia, played in front of 5,000 supporters.

The programme was supported by the Ministries of Economic Affairs and Climate; Justice and Security; Education, Culture and Science; and Health, Welfare and Sport.

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