Fears that football fans could pack into pubs for TV matches
Concerns have been raised that eager football fans could pack pubs to watch their teams on big screens while grounds remain closed.
Walsall Liberal Democrat group leader Ian Shires asked members of a scrutiny committee meeting on Tuesday whether the borough was prepared for any potential Covid-19 spike as more restrictions are lifted from July 4.
Pubs have remained closed during lockdown but will start trading again from Saturday.
And, although the football season resumed for teams in the top two divisions, clubs such as Wolves, Aston Villa and West Bromwich Albion are playing ‘behind closed doors’ in empty stadiums with games being broadcast on TV.
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Councillor Shires said it was important the council and health partners were prepared for people flocking to pubs once they reopen.
He said: “I’m really concerned about what’s going to happen on the fourth of July when more of the restrictions come off.
“We’re going to see pubs opening, which is fine providing that people act in a responsible way.
“But just imagine the situation, where Wolverhampton Wanderers are playing at home. People can’t go and watch them at the ground but it could well be on a TV screen in a pub near you.
“Are we ready for that? Have we got plans to deal with that on the back of things that we have seen, for example, in Bournemouth?
“I know that was half a million people rushing for a beach and I’m not talking around those numbers. But it’s the same effect on a local level.”
Dr Anand Rischie, chairman of Walsall clinical commissioning group, said: “One of the things we can all do is keep the message clear, Covid is far from over.
“Spikes we see right now need local responses. Nationally we cannot sustain the lockdown to continue forever and giving some leeway for people to start doing things is important for our economy.
“As a clinician, if you ask me, I would keep lockdown forever until we have that vaccine but it’s not possible for a country to survive.”
Councillor Stephen Craddock, portfolio holder for health and wellbeing, said the council had launched its Covid cutbreak management plan this week.
Part of the plan looks at what can be done in the event of workplaces or people not adhering to restrictions or social distancing measures.
Councillor Craddock said enforcement is an option but that would be as a last resort as they focus on support and collaboration.