England vs NZ: Nearly 18,000 spectators allowed for Edgbaston Test
England are set to host New Zealand in a two-match Test series, starting June 2 at Lord's. In a major move, nearly 18,000 spectators will be allowed for the second and final game of the series at Edgbaston. This crowd which makes up 70 percent of the stadium's capacity, will be allowed on each day of the Test. Here is more.
The move is a part of the UK government's pilot project to understand the challenges of allowing crowds at mass participation events amid the COVID-19 pandemic. Notably, the main aim is to analyze the COVID-19 protocols when moving around the stadium. It will also help the organizers gain further evidence about the risk of transmission at mass gatherings.
As per the government protocols, the ticket holders must present a negative COVID-19 result from an NHS Rapid Lateral Flow Test prior to the day they are attending. All the ticket holders should be aged 16 and over, and submit their consent to take part in the program. Notably, face masks aren't required while being seated or consuming food items.
The ECB CEO, Tom Harrison, welcomed the move to allow spectators in stadiums. "Having crowds back into cricket grounds is so important for the game and for our fans too. The last 15 months have shown just how big a role cricket plays in many people's lives, and we cannot wait to welcome fans back to our stadia over the coming months," he said.
A report in ESPNcricinfo stated that the first Test between NZ and England at Lord's will welcome crowd in capacity of 25 per cent (nearly 7,500), a day. This will be England's first home international game since 2019 to be played in front of spectators. The entire home summer of England, which included Tests against West Indies and Pakistan, was held behind closed doors.
Earlier this month, it was reported that the ICC WTC final between New Zealand and India will be held in the presence of 4,000 spectators at The Ageas Bowl. The news came after nearly 1,500 people were allowed to attend the County Championship match between Hampshire and Leicestershire in Southampton. The WTC final will be followed by the five-Test series between England and India.