Events in Hatfield will be used to get fans and audiences back in safely to mass sporting gatherings, as lockdown restrictions are gradually eased and COVID-19 'vaccine passports' are trialled.

Hatfield Park has been picked for one of the initial nine pilot events to enable the safe return of mass gatherings and indoor events as lockdown restrictions ease in England.

COVID-status certification - the so-called vaccine passports - will also be trialled as part of the pilot programme.

The Hertfordshire stately home will host three 10k mass participation runs over the weekend of Saturday, April 24 to Sunday, April 25, Culture Secretary Oliver Dowden confirmed last night (Saturday).

The Hertsmere MP tweeted: "We have revealed the initial pilot events which will help pave the way for larger audiences at sport, theatre and gigs this summer.

"The government’s science-led Events Research Programme will work with organisers to undertake studies to get fans and audiences back safely."

The runs at Hatfield House on April 24 and 25 will take place with 3,000 runners and up to 3,000 spectators allowed at each.

Other sports events included in the test scheme include the Carabao Cup Final, the second FA Cup semi-final, and the FA Cup Final at Wembley.

People attending the trials will have to adhere to an agreed code of behaviour when they purchase a ticket and to take a COVID test both before and after the event.

They will be required to follow existing government guidance, including wearing face coverings, and to provide contact details of everyone in their group for NHS Test and Trace.

Writing in the Mail On Sunday, Culture Secretary Oliver Dowden said: “We will examine the risks closely, plan to keep people safe, mitigate the dangers and, in doing, so we will be able to have spectators returning in full to events once more.

“Each successful pilot is a huge step forward towards the life we all miss sorely, every day."

The Prime Minister – who will set out more details on Monday – said the government was doing “everything we can” to enable the return of mass gatherings and indoor events as lockdown restrictions ease in England.

Boris Johnson said: “We have made huge strides over the past few months with our vaccine programme and everyone in the country has made huge sacrifices to get us to this stage in our recovery from COVID-19.

“We are doing everything we can to enable the reopening of our country so people can return to the events, travel and other things they love as safely as possible, and these reviews will play an important role in allowing this to happen.”

As part of the pilot scheme, the FA Cup semi-final between Leicester and Southampton at the national stadium on April 18 will see football fans return for the first time since December, with 4,000 spectators able to attend.

Manchester City face Tottenham in the Carabao Cup Final seven days later, with 8,000 fans watching and the month-long scheme will conclude with the FA Cup Final on May 15, when 21,000 fans will be allowed to attend.

The World Snooker Championship at the Crucible Theatre in Sheffield – running from April 17 to May 3 – is the first sporting event to be included in the trial and will have 1,000 spectators per day, while there will also be the mass participation run at Hatfield House on April 24 and 25, with 3,000 runners and a further 3,000 spectators.

In Liverpool, a comedy club show, the Luna outdoor cinema, a business event, and Circus nightclub will also host pilot events over the coming weeks.

At the same time the government is working on the development of a “Covid status certification” scheme, the so-called “vaccine passport”.

In developing the scheme, officials will take into account three factors – whether an individual has received the vaccine, has recently tested negative for the virus, or has “natural immunity” having tested positive in the previous six months.

The NHS is said to be currently working on ways of providing people with the means to demonstrate their COVID status through “digital and non-digital routes” – via a phone app or paperwork signed by a GP.

Here, the PA news agency charts which sports events are included in the pilot and how many spectators will be allowed.

  • April 17-May 3: Snooker World Championships, Crucible Theatre, Sheffield – Up to 1,000 people a day (indoor seated).
  • April 18: FA Cup semi-final (Leicester v Southampton), Wembley – 4,000 (outdoor seated).
  • April 24-25: Three 10k runs, Hatfield Park – 3,000 people and up to 3,000 spectators at each event (outdoor, mass participation run).
  • April 25: Carabao Cup final (Manchester City v Tottenham), Wembley – 8,000 people (outdoor, seated).
  • May 15: FA Cup Final (TBD), Wembley – 21,000 people (outdoor, seated).