Fans in English sporting event for 1st time since March

LONDON (AP) — Spectators were allowed into a sporting event in England for the first time since March when coronavirus prevention measures were tested at a cricket match between Surrey and Middlesex at The Oval ahead of a planned wider reopening of stadiums in October.

Alternate rows were used across two stands and advisory signs were on show for the friendly match being watched by 1,000 people, with a two-seat gap between family groups of a maximum of six.

A limited number of members were in assigned seats in the stadium in south London.

Surrey chief executive Richard Gould said the club received 10,000 calls for the available places within an hour of the tickets being made available to members.

“The sun is shining, cricket is taking place and people look happy,” Gould said. “I hope it’s not going to be a one-off. I think it depends on how well it goes.

“We’ve got lots of people here from government and safety authorities, and I think they’ll have a look at it and make a judgement and hopefully it can accelerate things if this goes well.”

Some spectators also will be allowed into the world snooker championship in Sheffield from Friday as part of the government scheme piloting the return of fans. The Glorious Goodwood horse racing festival on Saturday is also part of the scheme.