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Development of digital health passport could help fans return to the stands

As the restart of the Premier League began last night, clubs are set to trial a digital health passport to enable the return of fans into stadiums. Prenetics, a partner of the Premier League is at the development stage of the process with Manchester City and Arsenal amongst the teams looking to trial the biometric access system.

Prenetics, currently supply the Premier League with testing for coronavirus, hope to develop a “health passport” enabling fans to enter stadiums. Governing bodies could approve the use of digital health passports to allow fans to enter stadiums safely and securely, as stadiums are at limited capacity at the moment due to the current pandemic.

Chief Executive for the EMEA region for Prenetics, Avi Lasarow, told Reuters the genetic testing and digital health organisation is at the development stage of a secure evidence-test and access system.

"I think it’s going to be a big game-changer in terms of linking Covid-19 testing results... to a digital access mechanism based on biometrics and other such factors,”

"With any innovation, you’re always thinking about what the end goal is... in the world of sport it's about getting fans back into the stadium.”

The digital system would require fans to scan their health passport information through the use of a QR code, when trying to access the stands to prove that their Covid-19 test is valid and a negative result. Fans would have to opt into the system via email, providing personal information, such as a photograph, which then would provide each fan with their own personal code available via mobile phone.

Players and staff at Manchester City, Arsenal, Aston Villa and Sheffield United will trial Prenetics health passport system, while being supplied to other industries, throughout the next six weeks as the conclusion of the 2019/20 season takes place.

“This is the first time it’s being used in sports,” Lasarow said, “It has the possibilities for scaling it up in a sport context to stadiums and fans in a much bigger capacity. I think that’s where the future is in terms of Covid-19.”

“The capability is there for us to facilitate the safe return of fans to stadiums.”

New stadium safety measures cover every aspect of a match. The field has been divided into different zones, with the tunnel and pitch set to be part of the 'red zone' and open only to those who have had a test within the past five days and operating at a maximum capacity of 110 people. The 'green and amber zones' are then accessible to the stadiums remaining quota of 222 people, including broadcasters, 25 written journalists and 15 radio broadcasters.

Prenetics conducted more than 8,000 tests on Premier League players and staff prior to the restart of the season and the action will continue behind closed doors for the foreseeable future.

Author: James Parker