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Football fans can return to grounds in limited numbers, says Prime Minister Boris Johnson

Fans can return to football grounds when the country comes out of the second national lockdown.

It means a limited number of spectators could be back at Gillingham as early as next month.

Gillingham fans could be back at Priestfield as early as next month.
Gillingham fans could be back at Priestfield as early as next month.

Up to 4,000 fans or 50 per cent of stadium capacity - whichever is lower - will be allowed outdoors in tier 1 areas.

In tier 2 areas, it will be up to 2,000 fans or 50 per cent of stadium capacity - whichever is lower.

Prime Minister Boris Johnson, who is re-introducing the tiered system from Thursday, December 3, said on Monday: "At tiers 1 and 2, spectator sports and business events will be free to resume inside and outside with capacity limits and social distancing."

He also said that areas in tier 2 will only be allowed to serve "alcohol in hospitality settings as part of a meal" while the 10pm hospitality cut-off is being extended to last orders at 10pm with closing at 11pm.

Tiers are due to be announced later on Thursday, but Kent could be placed in tier 3 which would mean Gills would continue to play games behind closed doors.

"We expect more regions will fall at least temporarily into higher levels than before," said Mr Johnson. "It should be possible for areas to move down the scale to lower levels of restrictions."

If Kent is placed in tier 1 or 2, then it would also allow National League Dover, plus Dartford, Ebbsfleet, Maidstone and Tonbridge - who play in National League South - to admit fans to their grounds for the first time since early March.

Organised grassroots sport is also allowed to resume from December 2 and gyms and leisure centres will be able to reopen across all tiers.

Indoor sporting events and fixtures in tiers 1 and 2 locations will be able to host a maximum of 1,000 fans or 50 per cent of stadium capacity - whatever is lower.

However in tier 3 locations, fans will not be permitted to attend elite sporting fixtures in line with hospitality venues and other large event venues being closed. Elite sport in tier 3 locations will still continue behind closed doors.

Culture Secretary Oliver Dowden said: "This is a big step forward for sport. Bringing grassroots sport back was my number one priority so I’m pleased we are reopening sports and gyms in every tier, in recognition of the significant health benefits.

"I’m also delighted we are able to get the turnstiles turning sooner than expected, taking a cautious approach and starting with the lowest risk areas first. I’m confident that sports will take every step to ensure their fans are safe, and fans will play their part and look out for each other until we can safely get everyone back in."

Read more: All the latest sports news in Kent

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