Wednesday 26 May 2021 2:47 pm

Crowd pleasers: England cricket test match and Royal Ascot picked for next fan pilot

Thousands of fans will be able to attend an England cricket test match and Royal Ascot this summer as part of the next stage of the government’s pilot programme for major events.

The second test of the men’s series against New Zealand, beginning on 10 June at Edgbaston, will be allowed to welcome more than 18,000 fans each day.

Royal Ascot, which takes place from 15 to 19 June, has been given the green light for 12,000 spectators per day – more than double what the iconic race meeting had been expecting.

The major sporting fixtures have been selected for the next stage of a pilot project aimed at testing the ability of venues to safely house large crowds.

Two of England’s group games are reportedly set to be part of the trial, with 20,000 fans permitted at Wembley.

It comes after a successful first round of the pilot programme, which included the FA Cup final and a club night in Liverpool.

Just 15 cases of Covid-19 were detected out of the 58,000 people who took part after blanket testing before and after the events.

Current restrictions limit the number of people in stadiums to 10,000, but no more than 25 per cent of capacity. For non-seated outdoor venues such as racecourses there is a cao of 4,000.

But the positive results of the pilot programme so far has raised hopes venues could return to full capacity with a full easing of lockdown measures on 21 June.

The Edgbaston test series will see the ground at 70 per cent capacity. All fans must present a negative result from a lateral flow Covid test completed within 24 hours before attending.

The fixtures will also be restricted to people over the age of 16.

“Whilst public health is the priority, the first stage pilots have shown how people can safely start to enjoy the things they love; live sport and music,” said Stuart Cain, Edgbaston chief executive.

“It will be great to welcome cricket fans to Edgbaston and give the England team a huge boost as nothing beats the atmosphere that crowds create here.”

Royal Ascot is able to host 70,000 spectators, meaning the racecourse will be at less than 20 per cent capacity.

The venue said it was still finalising the details of requirements for visitors, but said all those who rolled over their 2020 bookings will be accommodated.