Spanish sports fans in areas with a low prevalence of COVID-19 will be able to return to stadiums, the country’s sports minister announced on Wednesday.
“Live audiences will be able to return to La Liga football and ABC basketball matches. But we’re going to follow our health criteria and base our decisions on prudence and common sense,” said Jose Manuel Rodriguez Uribes.
For now, only the regions of Valencia, the Balearic Islands, and Galicia have low enough infection rates to be able to host crowds in their stadiums.
That means the Eibar-Valencia match and the Villareal-Seville games in La Liga’s first division this weekend will be played in front of a live audience.
The pandemic has made Spanish football matches hauntingly quiet. The sound of passionate crowds was stripped away to reveal just the grunts and calls of the players.
This news may come as a treat to both fans able to see the matches in person, as well as those viewing at home.
The drawback remains the opportunity for COVID-19 spreading, but the government hopes to minimize the risk.
Keeping spectators in check
The new rules stipulate that the stadiums will not be able to fill up beyond 30% of their capacity and can host a maximum of 5,000 people.
Fans will also be prohibited from eating, drinking anything besides water, or smoking cigarettes. According to Health Minister Carolina Darias, they will also have to wear FFP2 masks and have their temperatures taken upon entry.
“This is great and highly anticipated news. I’m the health minister but I also love football and basketball. We hope we can keep delivering good news as the vaccination campaign gains speed,” she said.
Spain has vaccinated 30% of its adult population with at least one COVID-19 jab.
Last weekend, Spain lifted its state of emergency, and most areas have removed travel restrictions and curfews.
The country’s government on Wednesday also launched a fresh tourism campaign targeted at the international market.