Cabinet Office Minister Michael Gove has announced that plans to allow the phased return of spectators into sporting venues in England from October 1 will be put on hold because of the recent rise in coronavirus cases in the UK.
A number of capped-capacity pilot test events have already taken place, but Mr Gove has said the next phase has been paused.
“It was the case that we were looking at a staged programme of more people returning,” he told BBC Breakfast.
“It wasn’t going to be the case that we were going to have stadiums thronged with fans, we’re looking at how we can, for the moment, pause that programme.
“But what we do want to do is to make sure is that as and when circumstances allow get more people back.
“We have to look at sporting events with caution.”
Gove added: “We also recognise that sport’s a vital part of the life of the nation and we’re looking at everything we can do to support our athletes and our great clubs at what is a challenging time.
“It is the case that we need to be cautious at the moment. A mass reopening would not be appropriate at the moment. We do need to proceed with caution.”
The UK’s chief medical officers recommended on Monday that the Covid-19 alert level should be moved from three to four, which means the transmission of the virus is “high or rising exponentially”.
Prime Minister Boris Johnson is set to outline a number of new measures aimed at tackling the surge in coronavirus cases later on Tuesday.