Government planning ‘to lift social distancing and reopen sport venues’

The government is reportedly drawing up plans to get sports fans back into large venues in a “seat out to help out” scheme.

Officials want to test millions of people every day as part of “Operation Moonshot” – with stadiums and theatres set to benefit.

They are reportedly eyeing November 1 as a date when coronavirus social distancing may be lifted.

People with tickets for football matches or plays could be tested in advance and then chased up a few days after the event, the Sunday Times reports.

Prime Minister Boris Johnson and Culture Secretary Oliver Dowden last week ordered officials to “move at extreme pace” to encourage crowds back into large venues, it is claimed.

A source said: “Rapid testing is seen as the thing that can unlock the issue of getting audiences back. There have been meetings this week.

“Direction has been given at a very senior level to work at extreme pace on this. The PM is keen on making rapid progress.”

Other theatres and restaurants might be encouraged to offer discounts on Mondays, so people with tickets could save money on meals.

Pre-season friendlies, including a game between Brighton and Chelsea, have already seen clubs bring fans back in with social distancing measures.

The team behind “eat out to help out” will reportedly create a “seat out to help out” plan to persuade people to attend events once the restrictions are lifted.

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During August, diners got a 50% discount on meals and soft drinks up to £10 each under the scheme, which operated on Mondays, Tuesdays and Wednesdays.

The Treasury said restaurants made 130,000 claims worth £522m.

Chancellor Rishi Sunak said: "From the get-go our mission has been to protect jobs, and to do this we needed to be creative, brave and try things that no government has ever done before.

"Today's figures continue to show Eat Out to Help Out has been a success. I want to thank everyone, from restaurant owners to waiters, chefs and diners, for embracing it and helping drive our economic recovery."

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