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Anger Over 'Ban' on 'Clinically Vulnerable' at Events

Anger Over 'Ban' on 'Clinically Vulnerable' at Events

Disability rights campaigners are accusing the Government of discrimination because people who are “clinically extremely vulnerable” to COVID-19 are seemingly banned from venues being used to host ‘test’ events in allowing crowds to return to venues. These include the World Snooker Championship currently talking place in Sheffield.

There are nine events taking place over the next month under the Events Research Programme trialling different approaches to allowing crowds to return safely to venue.

Among the events that will be used to test how different types of venues can reopen safely as part of the government’s “roadmap” out of lockdown. As well as the annual snooker competition at the Crucible Theatre others chosen include football’s Carabao Cup final between Spurs and Manchester City on 25 April and the Brit Awards.

The disabled-led campaigning charity Level Playing Field, which represents disabled sports fans, said it was “extremely worried” that the decision to prevent spectators attending events would set “a potentially discriminatory precedent,” and it could be seen as “an attack on freedom of choice and human rights”.

The government’s decision that those who are clinically extremely vulnerable (CEV) to coronavirus – and those who are pregnant, or under 18 – should not attend the test events was not included in the press release that provided details about the programme.

But there is a warning on the World Professional Billiards and Snooker Association (WPBSA) website, which says that ticket holders have been told by email: “Unfortunately, it is not possible for us to allow you to attend this event if you are classed as clinically extremely vulnerable, pregnant or living with somebody who falls within these categories.”

Chris Fry from Sheffield-based discrimination law experts Fry Law also raised concerns about the decision to ban CEV people from the world snooker championships, which he suggested could be “direct discrimination against disabled people.” He also suggested that if the policy was imposed on the tournament by the government, there could be grounds for legal action through a judicial review.

A spokesperson for the Government’s Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS). said “While they were designed to be as inclusive as possible, we have been advised that it would not be suitable on health grounds for the clinically extremely vulnerable to attend such pilot events and potentially be put at greater risk of transmission.”


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