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Silverstone backs British GP vaccine passports for capacity F1 crowd

Silverstone has joined a number of UK sporting bodies in backing the use of 'vaccine passports' and COVID-19 testing in order to welcome capacity crowds for its summer races.

Mechanics prepare the cars of Lewis Hamilton, Mercedes F1 W11, and Valtteri Bottas, Mercedes F1 W11, on the front row of the grid

Mechanics prepare the cars of Lewis Hamilton, Mercedes F1 W11, and Valtteri Bottas, Mercedes F1 W11, on the front row of the grid

Mark Sutton / Motorsport Images

After being forced to stage two Formula 1 races behind closed doors and cancel its MotoGP race in 2020 following the start of the pandemic, Silverstone has been working to try and safely welcome fans back for its 2021 events.

The F1 British Grand Prix is scheduled for 16-18 July, while the MotoGP race will take place on 29 August.

The British government has outlined a roadmap for an easing of restrictions in the coming months, including permission for large outdoor seated venues to allow up to 10,000 fans or 25% of total capacity - whichever is lower - from 17 May.

There could then be a further loosening of restrictions from 21 June to allow for capacity crowds at all of the UK's major summer sporting events.

Silverstone has now given its full support to plans for vaccine passports and COVID-19 testing prior to allowing fans to attend its events, ensuring they can function safely.

The circuit joined bodies including the FA, the EFL, the Premier League, the RFU, the ECB and Wimbledon in writing to Prime Minister Boris Johnson and the leaders of the opposing political parties about the matter.

The bodies said the plan to cap attendances at 25% of capacity would be "still be insufficient to end sport's COVID financial crisis", reasoning the push to return to fuller crowds through a vaccine passport scheme.

"It is right that every possible action is considered to secure this outcome as soon as possible, but only for as long as an unrestricted return is considered unsafe to fans, matchday staff and the wider public," the letter reads.

Wear Face Mask reminder on start finish straight

Wear Face Mask reminder on start finish straight

Photo by: Glenn Dunbar / Motorsport Images

"This includes investigating how a COVID certification arrangement could reduce and then safely remove the requirement for social distancing.

"There are many issues to be addressed including how the technology would work and its ease of use at major events, for both the attendees and the organisers.

"All of our sports can see the benefit that a COVID certification process offers in getting more fans safely back to their sport as quickly as possible. We know that our stadia can only be fully filled with an assurance process.

"This process must ensure that everyone can access stadia and must include arrangements that would verify a negative COVID test or an antibody test alongside vaccination certification.

"The final approach must not be discriminatory, should protect privacy, and have clear exit criteria."

More than half of all adults in the UK have already received their first dose of COVID-19 vaccine, but it is not thought that this will reach all adults until July.

Some sporting events have already outlined plans for reduced crowds. Up to 8,000 fans will be permitted to attend the Carabao Cup final at Wembley later this month, while the stadium plans to operate at 50% capacity for its Euro 2020 events in the summer.

But the vaccine passport proposal has met opposition from some UK lawmakers who fear it could create a "two-tier" society.

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