Scottish football’s Joint Response Group (JRG) has removed restrictions on away fans attending games during COVID-19, signalling a return to some kind of normality for the matchday experience.
On August 9, the legal requirement for physical distancing and limits on gatherings were removed as Scotland entered Level 0, resulting in clubs being able to play in front of more fans and, subject to local authority approval, at full capacity.
With the country’s vaccination programme now at an advanced stage, and citizens now familiar with the day-to-day baseline mitigation measures that remain in place, the JRG has now said it believes it is appropriate for clubs to make their own business decisions based on their own risk assessments.
Premiership clubs have had to relocate fans from main stands to allow for socially distanced areas. Away fans have been in place at certain stadia in recent months, but the likes of Rangers’ Ibrox (pictured) and Celtic’s Celtic Park have housed home supporters in sections normally reserved for away supporters.
However, the JRG’s decision to remove the mandatory use of ‘Red Zones’ throughout Scottish stadia removes the barriers that had been in place for clubs, albeit while leaving the decision up to the teams themselves as to whether they choose to do so.
The JRG said: “Now that vaccination rates have increased considerably in the age cohort of professional footballers, with mandatory distancing removed from indoor and outdoor events by Scottish Government, and with many clubs keen to remove Red Zones to facilitate the attendance of more home and away supporters, the JRG considers the subject of physical distancing to be an area for clubs to determine through their own risk assessment.
“The requirement to have a Red Zone will no longer be mandatory but the JRG protocols are still available to use, should clubs wish to continue to implement them.”