Fans will not be able to return to Premier League stadiums and other sporting venues in England until May 17 at the earliest, the British government says.
But up to 10,000 spectators could be allowed back for the final days of the Premier League season and for European Championship games.
The news formed part of Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s ‘road map’ for the easing of lockdown restrictions to limit the spread of coronavirus, which was announced on Monday afternoon.
With the exception of any approved trial events, the news rules out the possibility of fans attending all but the final round of Premier League games in the 2020-21 season.
But it does leave open the possibility of spectators returning to events over the summer, such as Euro 2020, Wimbledon and cricket internationals, depending on whether the conditions for easing restrictions have been met by May 17.
Outdoor events will be capped at 50 per cent capacity or 4000, whichever is lower, and for indoor events this will be 50 per cent capacity or 1000, whichever is lower.
The road map includes special provision for large, outdoor, seated venues where crowds can be safely distributed, allowing up to 10,000 people or 25 per cent of total seated capacity, whichever is lower.
Pilots will also run to examine how such events can take place without the need for social distancing using other mitigations such as testing, the government said.
The road map set out the lifting of restrictions in four steps. At each one, the success of the vaccine rollout, vaccine efficacy, the presence of variants and infection rates will be measured before deciding whether to take the next step.
Johnson said there would be a minimum five-week gap between each step.
In the second part of step one – not before March 29 – organised outdoor sports can return, and outdoor sports facilities such as tennis and basketball courts can reopen.
At step two, from April 12 at the earliest, use of indoor leisure facilities such as gyms for individuals or household groups will be possible.
Alongside the partial reopening of sports venues at step three, organised indoor adult sport will be possible.