Outlining the Government’s ‘Plan B’ contingency plan, Sajid Javid said they could be re-introduced for any outdoor setting of more than 1,000 people, which would of course include home attendances at Sheffield United’s Bramall Lane and at Sheffield Wednesday’s Hillsborough stadiums.
As suggested by the Prime Minister in July, entry to nightclubs would also require so-called ‘passports’.
All events holding over 10,000 people could also be included in the vaccine passport plan. It is unlikely the ruling – if introduced – would affect regular matches involving the city’s non-league scene.
Javid admitted Ministers could give businesses – including football clubs – only one week’s notice before bringing in the rules, sparking fears over potential chaos when it comes to implementation. Businesses have been advised to prepare for the possible enacting of the contingency plans.
Compulsory face masks could be reintroduced at stadiums in the event of a surge, with Sage advising that there is a ‘small but significant impact’ on the transmission of the virus.
And there was no absolute denial of the possibility of another lockdown, which could see crowds at Owls or Blades matches severely impacted or indeed played behind closed doors as they were throughout the 2020/21 season.
There was no explicit definition of what defines a ‘surge’ in the eyes of the Government.
Javid said: “The Government remains committed to taking whatever action is necessary to protect the NHS from being overwhelmed, but more harmful economic and social restrictions would only be considered as a last resort.”
He told the Commons: “Any responsible government must prepare for all eventualities, and although these measures are not an outcome anyone wants, it's one that we need to be ready for just in case.”
The most recent available data taken for Sheffield coronavirus cases – from September 3 to September 9 – say there were 1,962 cases in the region in the six-day period, seven cases down on the previous week.
Data from September 9 suggests some 70 per cent of people in Sheffield have had their second dose of a Covid vaccine.