Timeline of how the COVID-19 pandemic affected football in the United Kingdom

31st December 2019:
Chinese authorities inform the World Health Organization’s China office of an increase in pneumonia cases in Wuhan City, Hubei province, China, with no known cause.

1st January 2020:
Chinese officials close the Huanan seafood market as it was suspected to be the source of the mystery disease, as some of the patients presenting pneumonia-like symptoms were dealers and vendors at the market.

7th January 2020:
China identifies the mystery disease as a new ‘Coronavirus’, explaining that coronaviruses are a large family of viruses that can cause varying levels of disease, from a common cold to severe fatal diseases. These viruses are often found in animals; however, some can infect humans and can transmit between humans. 44 patients have been reported to have the disease by Chinese officials.

9th January 2020:
China reports first death linked to the new coronavirus, a 61-year-old man from Wuhan with previous underlying health conditions.

13th January 2020:
First imported case of new coronavirus reported in Thailand; a 61-year-old woman from Wuhan City who did not report that she had recently visited the Huanan seafood market.

30th January 2020:
WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus declares the COVID-19 outbreak a public health emergency of international concern following newly reported cases in multiple different countries, and a total death toll of 213.

31st January 2020:
The first identified case of COVID-19 is reported in the United Kingdom.

10th February 2020:
The United Kingdom health department declares COVID-19 an ‘imminent threat’ to public health, allowing the government to forcibly quarantine individuals.

5th March 2020:
The first death from coronavirus in the United Kingdom is confirmed; The number of positive cases exceeds 100 in the UK.
The English Premier League bans pre-match handshakes to help prevent the spread of the virus.

9th March 2020:
The UK Government release a statement saying that there is ‘no rationale’ for cancelling sporting events in Britain.

11th March 2020:
The first Premier League match (Manchester City vs Arsenal) is postponed as a ‘precautionary measure’ due to the pandemic, with several Arsenal players then forced to self-isolate.

12th March 2020:
Prime Minister Boris Johnson reveals that the government is considering banning sporting fixtures, but it will not happen immediately.
Arsenal manager, Mikel Arteta, tests positive for coronavirus causing the next league game against Brighton to be postponed.
All football matches in the U.K. are to be play behind-closed-doors for the foreseeable future.

13th March 2020:
Domestic football at all levels in Wales is suspended until at least April 4th due to coronavirus.
Chelsea winger Callum Hudson-Odoi tests positive for coronavirus; all Chelsea and Everton players are forced to self-isolate.
UEFA suspends all football competitions due to be played on 17th and 18th of March.

16th March 2020:
Prime Minister Boris Johnson advises everyone in the UK against “non-essential” travel and contact with others, to work from home (if possible) and to avoid visiting social venues such as pubs, clubs and theatres in an attempt to curb the coronavirus.
The FA advises that all grassroots football should be postponed.

17th March 2020:
Euro 2020 is officially postponed until 2021.

18th March 2020:
The UK death toll from coronavirus surpasses 100.

19th March 2020:
All English and Scottish football is postponed until at least April 30th, with the 2019-20 season extended indefinitely.

20th March 2020:
Prime Minister Boris Johnson orders for all cafés, pubs, and restaurants (excluding takeaway food) to close, as well as all cinemas, gyms, nightclubs, and leisure centres.

23rd March 2020:
The UK enters its first official lockdown in line with the coronavirus pandemic, with the British public ordered to stay at home except for “very limited purposes” (shopping for essential items and outdoor exercise either alone or with a member of the same household). All non-essential shops, libraries, places of worship, playgrounds and outdoor gyms have been closed with police given powers to enforce the new measures, including the use of fines.
The Irish FA suspends the football season in Northern Ireland until 30th April.

28th March 2020:
The death toll in the UK surpasses 1,000.

31st March 2020:
The number of people in hospital with COVID-19 passes 10,000.

10th April 2020:
Global number of COVID-19 deaths surpasses 100,000.

16th May 2020:
The German Bundesliga becomes the first major European league to return following the pandemic (behind-closed-doors).

11th June 2020:
Football games resume behind-closed-doors in the Spanish La Liga.

17th June 2020:
Football resumes behind-closed-doors in the United Kingdom.
The ‘taking of the knee’ and ‘Black Lives Matter’ movement is embraced by football in the UK following the unlawful murder of George Floyd by police in Minnesota.

25th June 2020:
Liverpool FC win the Premier League, the latest date in which a team has ever clinched the title.

28th June 2020:
Global number of COVID-19 cases surpasses 10 million; Global death toll surpasses 500,000.

10th September 2020:
The Premier League removes and distances itself from BLM movement and replaces it with ‘No Room for Racism’ following controversy over the morals of the BLM movement in which it wants to defund police services. The taking of the knee remains.

28th September 2020:
Global COVID-19 death toll surpasses 1 million.

9th November 2020:
Global number of COVID-19 cases surpasses 50 million.

2nd December 2020:
The UK becomes the first country in Europe to approve the new COVID-19 vaccination candidates from Pfizer and BioNTech for domestic use.
Prime Minister Boris Johnson announces that crowds of up to 4,000 (depending on a tier system in terms of the COVID-19 risk in the area) can attend professional football matches.

6th December 2020:
Millwall fans boo their players for taking the knee before kick-off.

15th December 2020:
Cambridge United fans boo their players for taking the knee before kick-off.

26th December 2020:
A new nationwide 6-week lockdown begins; professional football continues.

4th January 2021:
Brian Pinker, 82, becomes the first person in the UK to receive the Oxford/AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine.

20th February 2021:
FIFA announce that clubs will be able to prevent their players from going on international duty if the players would be forced to quarantine upon return.

22nd February 2021:
Prime Minister Boris Johnson announces plans to have up to 10,000 fans at stadiums for football matches from 17th May.

14th March 2021:
Crystal Palace and Ivory Coast winger, Wilfred Zaha, becomes the first Premier League footballer not to take the knee since its introduction, saying that he believes ‘more meaningful action should be taken against racism’.

29th March 2021:
Grassroots football returns in England, Scotland and Wales with the 2020-21 season extended until the end of June.

12th April 2021:
Grassroots football returns in Northern Ireland with groups of up to 15 people allowed to train outdoors together. Competitive matches are still postponed.

23rd April 2021:
Competitive matches at grassroots level are allowed to resume in Northern Ireland. All games are still to be played without spectators present.

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Journalist/Featured in @ArmaghI, @UlsterGazette, and more/BA with First Class Honours and MA @UlsterJournos /Co-host and Producer of @BottomBinsPod on @PRLYSports and @Spotify /Primary School Teacher✍️