Everton fans hoping to return to Goodison for the game against Chelsea next week will need to have tested negative for Covid-19 within the previous 36 hours, under plans revealed by the club.
The Toffees are preparing to welcome supporters back to Goodison for the first time in nearly nine months after Liverpool was placed in tier 2 of the government’s new set of coronavirus restrictions, which allows for up to 2,000 spectators to attend outdoor sporting events.
A minimum of 91% of those supporters will be drawn from a ballot of season ticket holders, with the rest hospitality members, though the club say only fans from the Liverpool City Region will be able to apply to prevent fans from areas with higher infection rates travelling to Merseyside.
Fans will be sat socially distanced in the Top Balcony and Gwladys Street stands and will need to show photo ID on entry.
They will also have to sign up to a supporter code of conduct and, perhaps most intriguingly, will need to have tested negative for Covid-19 the day or the day before the game.
Last month, Liverpool participated in a pilot of mass testing of asymptomatic people across the city in an attempt to drive down infection rates. Many of those mass testing centres remain, with fans expected to utilised them if they want to gain entry to Goodison.
Everton chief executive Denise Barrett-Baxendale said:
“It is a key moment in our season - and a crucial milestone in the battle against COVID-19.
“Indeed, the fact we can welcome fans back at all is testament to the collective efforts of communities across our city region.
“The part Everton Football Club - and our wonderful fans - can play in supporting that effort cannot be underestimated.
“It will be thrilling to welcome 2,000 Evertonians back to Goodison. But we want to see more return.
“That is why, following extensive consultation with key local and national authorities, we can share the details of our robust plan for the return of fans.
“It is a plan focused on protecting the safety of fans, staff, and players. It is a plan that aims to protect Evertonians by using all the opportunities open to us and a plan that, we hope, will result in us getting our entire match-going Everton family back together again as soon as possible.
“To provide the very safest environment for every fan attending the game - and to support the city’s ongoing mission to defeat COVID-19 - we feel it is only right that we ask everybody fortunate enough to secure a ticket through the ballot process to utilise the mass-testing centres across the city in the 36 hours prior to returning to Goodison for the Chelsea match.
“Coupled with temperature checks on entry, social distancing, the wearing of masks and regular sanitising of hands, it makes for a thorough plan aimed at maintaining the city’s downward trajectory in relation to COVID-19 infections.”
The result of the ballot will be announced on Monday, with fans who are unsuccessful continuing to receive a pro-rata refund on their season ticket as previously agreed.