FC Barcelona will be permitted full attendances at the Camp Nou for the first time in 18 months after the Government of Catalonia granted its approval.

Attendances at the Camp Nou have been restricted to 60% capacity of late, despite the Spanish Government last month lifting restrictions. The Interterritorial Council of Spain’s National Health System approved, with the agreement of all members and a single abstention, the specific measures against COVID-19 adopted for the month of October in competitions organised by LaLiga, the organising body of the top two divisions of domestic football, Liga ACB basketball, and other sporting events.

As stated in the agreement, stadium events returned to 100% capacity, with arenas permitted 80% capacity. At the beginning of September, it was announced that Spanish stadiums would be able to increase capacity to 60% after COVID-19 vaccination across the population reached the milestone of 70%.

Outdoor venues, such as LaLiga football stadiums, were able to go up to 60% during September from the 40% limit that was introduced at the start of August. Indoor venues increased to 40% from the previous limit of 30%. In both indoor and outdoor arenas, operators had to guarantee a minimum interpersonal distance of 1.5m.

Throughout this period the autonomous communities had the right to reduce capacity limits, as has happened in Catalonia and the Basque Country. This has led to Barcelona having to fall in-line with the rules set by the Generalitat de Catalunya, however President Pere Aragonès yesterday (Tuesday) announced that these restrictions would be relaxed.

From Friday, attendance limits will be removed for outdoors sports facilities and cultural venues, although the 80% limit will remain in place for indoor venues. For Barcelona, this will mean that the Camp Nou will return to full capacity for the LaLiga game against Valencia on Sunday, as well as El Clásico against Real Madrid on October 24.

“We are entering a phase of normalisation,” said Aragonès. “We are taking an important step to return to the day to day before the pandemic, an important step forward towards normality.”

He added: “We recovered 100% of the capacity in cultural events, outdoor sports activities and in the hotel industry. We are back to full presence. However, the use of a (face) mask will be essential.”

Barcelona president Joan Laporta last week revealed that the club will be forced to play away from the Camp Nou while renovation work is carried out at the stadium, with the Estadi Johan Cruyff being lined up as a potential part-time home.

In an interview with Catalan radio station RAC1, Laporta said that the club hopes to begin work on the Camp Nou expansion in the summer of 2022. The expansion will form part of the club’s wide-ranging Espai Barça project and will increase the Camp Nou’s capacity to 110,000.

Image: Fikri Rasyid on Unsplash