West Brom fans who partied outside The Hawthorns urged to avoid vulnerable people
West Brom fans who gathered outside The Hawthorns to celebrate the Baggies' promotion have been urged to stay away from people vulnerable to coronavirus.
Hundreds of supporters partied late into the evening last night after Albion's draw with QPR despite pleas from public health bosses for people to stay away after a recent spike of Covid-19 cases in Sandwell.
Infection rates in the borough have been 10 times higher than they were a few weeks ago and a factory in West Bromwich has closed after 49 out of 117 employees tested positive for the disease.
The latest rolling seven-day rate of new cases of Covid-19 shows Sandwell's rate of infection was 23.2 new cases per 100,000 people for the week up to Sunday compared to 8.6 the week before.
Dr Lisa McNally, the director of public health at Sandwell Council, today asked anyone who took part in the celebrations to stay away from elderly people and those with long-term illnesses.
She said: “It was an amazing night for the Baggies, for West Bromwich and for the whole area. We share the excitement of all WBA fans about promotion to the Premier League and congratulate the club on this fantastic achievement.
“The vast majority of fans stayed away from the ground. It was inevitable some supporters would gather at The Hawthorns on such an occasion.
“The infection rates are currently high in our area. This means it’s risky to be in close proximity to other people outside of your household.
“So we’re asking anyone who attended the celebrations last night to stay away from older people and those with long-term illnesses who are vulnerable to severe Covid-19 illness if infected.”
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The hordes of people celebrating on the A41 Birmingham Road were initially kept back by stewards next to the Astle Gates as some of the players including goalscorer Callum Robinson came out to join in the party, high fiving and taking selfies with supporters.
But supporters eventually poured over the barriers set up to keep them back and spread out over the car park as members of the squad danced and sang from a nearby entrance to the stadium.
The air was filled with smoke and singing as yellow and blue smoke bombs were let off and passing drivers sounded their horns while police officers worked to keep supporters out of the way of traffic.
WATCH footage of Hawthorns celebrations:
Despite the mass celebrations, West Midlands Police said there was no disorder and nobody was arrested following the match.
West Brom said that contingency plans to bring supporters onto the car park were put into place when crowds gathered on the A41 after the final whistle.
The players only came out to meet the fans when it became clear they were not going to leave until showing their appreciation, the club said, adding that players were brought back into the stadium when some fans broke past the barriers.
Ahead of kick-off, Albion knew they needed to match Brentford's result against Barnsley to secure second place and automatic promotion to the Premier League.
The matches were played at the same time and a dramatic 90 minutes saw the Baggies come back from 1-0 down to lead 2-1 before drawing 2-2.
An injury time winner for Barnsley meant Albion would have gone up automatically regardless, with Brentford now in the play-offs alongside Fulham, Cardiff and Swansea.
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