The Presidential Task Force on Covid-19 has relaxed restrictions of fans to football stadiums, saying fully vaccinated spectators will now be allowed to follow the action live.
Making the announcement, Minister of Information Gospel Kazako said fans would be allowed to watch games effective this weekend following the decrease in the number of Covid-19 confirmed cases, the number of people being admitted to isolation units, deaths due to Covid-19 and Super League of Malawi’s (Sulom) request.
He said: “For sports and recreational gatherings, the task force also agreed to review and consider allowing increased numbers subject to vaccination status of the attenders. Current request from Sulom for games this weekend and other bodies will be treated this way.”
The decision comes two weeks after Football Association of Malawi (FAM) wrote the Presidential Task Force on Covid-19 to consider allowing a limited number of vaccinated people at football matches.
Reacting to the news last evening, Sulom general secretary Williams Banda said the move would also help the government to use sports to increase the Covid-19 vaccination uptake.
He said: “We are grateful to the Presidential Task Force on Covid-19 because this will enable us to reach out to those who have been vaccinated to watch the games. We will also arrange with health facilities close to football venues to vaccinate those who are willing.
“This is a timely intervention as football fans will greatly contribute to increase the Covid-19 vaccination uptake.”
On the proposal to consider reducing gate charges for vaccinated fans, Banda said stakeholders will discuss the issue.
However, he appealed to fans to continue observing Covid-19 preventive measures such as social distancing, wearing face masks and washing hands regularly to reduce the further spread of the pandemic.
On his part, Silver Strikers chief executive officer Thoko Chimbali said the move would also boost revenue generation for clubs, and on the hand, the Ministry of Health will encourage people to get vaccinated.
He said: “This is very good news which will have a double impact as clubs will have revenue they have been deprived of for a long time while it will also increase the number of vaccine uptake. We are very happy because it means we will have fans in the FDH Bank final against Mighty Wanderers.”
On his part, Mighty Wanderers fanatic Yona Malunga, whose team face Nyasa Big Bullets on Sunday at Kamuzu Stadium in Blantyre, thanked government for allowing fans to watch matches, saying they will mobilise fans to get vaccinated.
“This is good news we have been waiting for and we will encourage fans and the general public to get vaccinated as a token of appreciation to the government.”