Fans will be allowed back in at football grounds from Saturday (August 22), the Football Association has confirmed.
The FA has issued updated guidelines for National League System (NLS) clubs, which include Barnstaple Town, Bideford, Ilfracombe Town, Holsworthy, Torridgeside and Torrington.
The guidelines include a phased return of spectators for clubs. The first phase will see spectators permitted to attend fixtures at grounds from step three to six from Saturday, provided the number does not exceed 15 per cent of its minimum ground grading capacity.
From August 31, the number of spectators allowed can increase to 30 per cent, but clubs must be satisfied they have been to comply with Government guidance on the sport’s safe return.
In practice, that means Bideford and Barnstaple Town can admit 200 spectators in phase one, with that number rising to 400 in phase two.
North Devon’s South West Peninsula League clubs can admit up to 150 spectators in phase one, before admitting up to 300.
If a club does not play between August 22 and August 31, it must have held one fixture in accordance with the first stage before moving on to phase two.
All clubs must have a designated ‘Covid-19 officer’, and complete and publish a risk assessment and action plan, as well as arranging support for track and trace efforts before fans can attend.
The FA said the return of spectators would be kept under constant review in line with Government guidance, and may be amended.
A statement from the FA said: “We have worked continuously alongside the Department for Digital, Culture, Media & Sport (DCMS), the Sports Grounds Safety Authority (SGSA) and leagues to submit detailed proposals for a phased and limited return of spectators at these levels to the UK Government.
“The DCMS has now clarified its guidance on the return to recreational team sport and clubs at steps three to six of the NLS and tiers three to four of the Women’s Football Pyramid are permitted to accommodate a phased and limited return of spectators to fixtures.
“However, they must follow the UK Government’s guidance in relation to Covid-19 and the FA’s updated guidelines for the NLS or WFP respectively.”