Covid cases rising before 350,000 Formula One fans head to Silverstone for British Grand Prix

Health chiefs confident UK's biggest sporting crowd for two years will not threaten Freedom Day

Thursday, 8th July 2021, 12:57 pm

Northamptonshire health chiefs are confident that 350,000 Formula One fans heading to Silverstone for the British Grand Prix will not threaten the county’s Covid recovery.

Government data on Tuesday (July 6) recorded 50 positive tests among people in the former South Northamptonshire district — making 256 during the last seven days and 195 since Sunday (July 4).

That compares to 79 during the previous week and 56 in the week before that.

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Fans will be back at Silverstone to see their hero Lewis Hamilton chase his ninth Silverstone GP win on July 18
Fans will be back at Silverstone to see their hero Lewis Hamilton chase his ninth Silverstone GP win on July 18

Boris Johnson warned on Monday "we must reconcile ourselves, sadly, to more deaths from Covid" as cases rise.

Yet the prospect of hundreds of thousands of Formula One fans flocking to the circuit over three days from July 16 is not filling local health chiefs with dread.

Public Health director, Lucy Wightman, insisted: "We are working really hard with colleagues in local authorities, Public Health England, the Department of Culture, Media and Sport, Silverstone Circuit Limited, and the wider community to ensure that every element of the planning for the event from accommodation to infection prevention and control, is adequately resourced and supported.”

Silverstone staged two GPs last year with no fans but got the green light to for crowds on all three days as part of the government’s ‘event research programme’ this year.

Hamilton won two GPs at Silverstone last year — but the Covid pandemic kept fans away

The ERP aims to examine the risk of transmission of Covid-19 by allowing bigger crowds at a range of sporting and music events, exploring ways to enable people to attend safely.

Previous pilots included the World Snooker Championship, Royal Ascot, Euro 2020 matches and Wimbledon — where restrictions were lifted on Tuesday making it the first sporting event in Great Britain to be played with capacity crowds since the pandemic began in March 2020.

Ticket holders at Silverstone will need to have had a second Covid jab at least two weeks before attending or a negative lateral flow test 48 hours before.

Anyone attending on all three days will need to be tested again before getting through the gate along with 140,000 petrol heads on race day itself.

People mingling and temporary staff being drafted in at hospitality venues away from the circuit is likely to be the biggest concern, however, as fans head into local towns and villages in what is likely to be the final few days before Covid restrictions are lifted on July 19.

Local officials will also be on the case to ensure all areas outside of the ERP footprint stick to the required infection control measures on lateral flow testing, social distancing, personal protective equipment use and precautions with regard to hand hygiene, cleaning and decontamination.

And West Northamptonshire Council environmental health teams will be deployed to ensure Covid-secure measures are in place across local communities, camp sites, hospitality venues and transport networks associated with the event.

Mrs Wightman added: “I know how loyal the F1 fan base is and I am confident that those attending will be strictly abiding by the rules and guidance put in place following Covid-19 secure measures in order that the race weekend is an enjoyable and safe one for all.”