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Italy sets June date for return of sports fans

The Italian government has announced that fans will be able to return to sports venues from June 1 as part of the country’s COVID-19 reopening strategy.

The Council of Ministers, on the proposal of Prime Minister Mario Draghi and Minister of Health Roberto Speranza, has approved a decree-law that introduces urgent measures for the gradual resumption of economic and social activities in compliance with the need to contain the spread of COVID-19.

The “riaperture” decree outlines the time schedule relating to the progressive elimination of the restrictions imposed to limit infections, in line with scientific data on the pandemic and the progress of the vaccination campaign.

Italy’s regions are classified into four areas depending on their COVID-19 status – red, orange, yellow and white. From June 1, in the yellow category, stadia and arenas will be permitted to reopen at a maximum 25% capacity, but this figure will be limited to 1,000 for outdoor venues and 500 for indoor.

For Serie A, the top division of Italian club football, these rules mean that it is set to end its 2020-21 season behind closed doors with the final round of fixtures currently scheduled for the weekend of May 22-23. However, the decree does specify that fan attendance could be permitted before June 1 for sporting events of “particular importance”.

Earlier this month, UEFA confirmed that Rome will be able to host the opening ceremony and first match of Euro 2020 after Italian authorities agreed to a plan that would allow at least 18,000 fans to attend games at the Stadio Olimpico.

The Italian capital was one of four cities granted extra time by European football’s governing body to provide additional information of their plans for Euro 2020 and give assurances fans would be able to attend.

Sports Minister Valentina Vezzali confirmed in writing that the government would commit to having at least 25% capacity at the 72,000-seat Stadio Olimpico (pictured) – which would be around 18,000 spectators – for the four scheduled Euro 2020 games, beginning on June 11.

The decision to allow fans to attend the Euro games was welcomed by Serie A clubs, with Lega Serie A president, Paolo Dal Pino, stating at the time that he was hopeful fans could be back in stadia for the final rounds of league games.

Image: ildirettore/CC BY 3.0/Edited for size