Soccer fans return to Wembley Stadium in Carabao Cup final

 The UK has taken another significant step towards lifting COVID-19 restrictions as 8,000 fans attended Sunday's Carabao Cup final at Wembley.

The soccer clash between Manchester City and Tottenham is one of several events at stadiums and indoor venues that the UK government is using to trial its COVID-19 certification scheme.

Those traveling to and from the stadium had to follow the usual rules regarding the wearing of face masks and could only mix with groups of up to six people who are a part of their social bubble. 

Upon arrival at Wembley, fans had to show a negative lateral flow (LFD) test taken on the day or on Saturday. On top of that, those attending the match will be asked to take PCR tests before and after the game.

As this cup final is part of a scientific trial, participants have been selected to take part. Public safety has to be demonstrated and data generated that proves large crowds won't contribute to increasing levels of transmission.

The UK government, through its Events Research Programme, is also trialing events with audiences at a cinema, nightclub, a concert and awards night between now and mid-May.

If mass participation is carried out without any increase in transmission, it could enable the government to relax other COVID restrictions. 

The government wants to remove all social restrictions by June 21 provided most of the country has been vaccinated.


However, there are fears that new variants of the virus originating in India, South Africa or elsewhere could reduce the effectiveness of vaccines currently in use.

In the meantime, the UK's vaccination program is motoring ahead. More than half of the population has been inoculated at least once. More than 12 million out of the UK's 66.7 million population have received both jabs.

As increasing numbers of people are vaccinated, football fans will hope Sunday's game at Wembley is the first of many and that they can return to stadiums across the country.

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