Hatfield Park to take part in COVID-19 trials for return of mass events
- Credit: Alan Davies
Hatfield Park has been chosen as one of the initial nine pilot events to enable the safe return of mass gatherings and indoor events as lockdown restrictions ease in England.
The Hertfordshire stately home will host three 10k mass participation runs over the weekend of Saturday, April 24 to Sunday, April 25, the government confirmed on Monday.
3,000 runners and up to 3,000 spectators will be allowed at each race, but there has been no confirmation on if COVID passports will be required for the event.
Sports minister Nigel Huddleston said no decisions had yet been made on processes or vaccination certificates for the events, but the government has said that ‘COVID-status certification will be trialled as part of the pilot programme’.
Speaking to the Welwyn Hatfield Times, Hertfordshire County Council's director for public health, Jim McManus said: "We're really pleased to be part of a national pilot to see how we can effectively put on safe outdoor events - particularly in the run up to large scale events like the London Marathon.
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“We'll be looking to trial a number of things at the Reunion 10K event and have been really impressed with the local organisation so far. We all need to remember to play our part as we come out of the national lockdown but it is also vital that we encourage safe exercise for people's physical health and mental wellbeing."
The Hatfield races will be organised by London Marathon Events, with event director Hugh Brasher saying: “The government’s Event Research Programme is a very significant step towards the safe return of events and London Marathon Events, along with our fellow mass participation event organisers, is doing everything we can to assist the government with this project.
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“We would like to thank everyone involved for their support in putting on the Reunion 10k.”
The trials will include a number of outdoor events – including the League Cup and FA Cup finals – and indoor events such as the Snooker World Championships at the Crucible in Sheffield.
“Our sports stars and great performers need us to find ways to get bums back on seats safely,” said culture secretary Oliver Dowden.
“This science-led pilot programme will be the springboard in getting the buzz back of live performance.
“We’ve supported the sports and arts with unprecedented sums, but it’s now time to make that Great British Summer of live events a reality.”
Health secretary, Matt Hancock added: “We are all longing to see stadiums full of sporting fans and gigs packed with music lovers, but as we continue the roll out of our vaccination programme, we must find a way to do so safely.
“By piloting a range of measures to reduce transmission, we can gather vital scientific evidence to inform our plans for allowing events in the future.”