The soccer fraternity will be allowed to watch the Airtel Top 8 final between Nyasa Big Bullets and Silver Strikers tomorrow at Kamuzu Stadium in Blantyre as new Covid-19 restrictions will only come into effect on Monday.
Presidential Task Force on Covid-19 co-chairperson Khumbize Kandodo Chiponda, who is also Minister of Health, announced yesterday that public gatherings has been now been restricted following a spike in the cases as the fourth wave sets in.
Briefing journalists in Lilongwe, she said the the measures are effective December 20.
Said Chiponda: “All religious, recreational and wedding gatherings should not exceed 100 people indoors and 250 outdoors subject to social distance requirements of at least one metre between persons.
“For sporting activities the figures prescribed should include players, officiating personnel, officials of participating teams and spectators.”
Reacting to the measures, Football Association of Malawi (FAM) commercial and marketing director Limbani Matola said the association would abide by the requirements.
He said: “As FAM, we pride ourselves as a law abiding corporate citizen. At the very onset of Covid-19 FAM executive committee established a Covid-19 special task force as a central coordinating unit for Covid-19 protocols.
“This is one of the reasons why the football industry is one of the best organised in as far as management of Covid-19 pandemic is concerned.”
On the Airtel Top 8 final, Matola said there was no need to panic to watch the match.
“We have put in place strict measures to ensure total compliance so that we safeguard and protect lives of our players and fans against the pandemic,” he said.
Among other measures, Matola said they started selling tickets in advance and on match day they would not sell them at the gates. He also urged fans to wear face masks, wash their hands regularly when they are inside the stadium and use sanitisers.
Nyasa Big Bullets chief administration officer Albert Chigoga commended the task force for giving fans an opportunity to watch tomorrow’s final.
He said: “Life first. Plaudists to task force for ensuring that people who love football are allowed to watch the final on Saturday while reminding them that we need to take precautionary measures to save lives. Come next Monday, we simply have to follow the measures religiously as Covid-19 is fatal.”
Silver Strikers chief executive officer Thoko Chimbali said the restriction has put them in an awkward position considering that the presale of tickets had already started.
However, former FAM acting general secretary and football analyst George Kaudza Masina said 250 was on the lower side.
He said: “It has to be appreciated that Covid-19 is here to stay. But for football, the 250 number is on the lower side compared to most match venues.
“At least 50 percent of a stadium could be reasonable and easy to manage unlike other open events such as music shows and political rallies. This calls for the football leadership to argue their case.”
The measures comes after the task force in September relaxed the rules to allow vaccinated fans to watch games.