As part of the post-match review from the weekend fixture against Stevenage, chief executive Nigel Clibbens praised fans for wearing face coverings and has asked for further support in dealing with exemptions.
“The response from fans to the mandatory wearing of face coverings at the win on Saturday against Stevenage was brilliant,” he said. “If we are to build trust and get to the next level of increasing the number of supporters allowed at Brunton Park we need to demonstrate to the Safety Authorities that we can provide and maintain as safe an environment as possible.
“I’m pleased to say that almost every supporter wore face coverings at all times, having been asked by the club in the lead-up to the game to do so.
“We did have rare instances where stewards approached fans to ask them to wear a face covering. The response to these requests was fantastic.”
On the issue of individuals who are exempt from wearing face coverings, he said: “We must learn from every game and handling exemptions as sensitively as possible is something we have been looking at since Saturday.
“We need the help of our fans to do that. Any supporter who isn’t wearing a face covering whilst at our stadium is likely to be approached by our stewards who will then ask for a face covering to be worn.
“I think everyone understands that we will sometimes need to remind people about the requirement to wear the face covering.
“Stewards can’t possibly know everybody’s personal situation, so dealing with exemptions is important and, we acknowledge, a potentially difficult area. We want to do this as sensitively as possible and learn from the responses and reactions we get at each game.
“We had some instances on Saturday where fans told us they were exempt when asked to wear a face covering, but had no visible proof of exemption. That creates the potential for an individual to be repeatedly challenged by different stewards – a situation that is frustrating for everybody and can cause further problems.
“We want to avoid that. We want issues of exemption to be dealt with low key and with minimum fuss, but this is where we need your help to make that possible.”
So how will the club deal with face covering exemptions?
“If an individual tells us that they are exempt, but they do not have proof of exemption, they will be asked to report to our ticket office staff on the west side of the stadium,” he explained. “Our staff will issue, where appropriate, a club validated exemption card.
“Our aim is to make this as simple and as effective a system as possible. To avoid any misunderstandings, we accept that there are people who have genuine reasons for being exempt from wearing face coverings.
“That is not a problem or issue at all, and we also understand that not everybody is comfortable with displaying a lanyard that shows proof of exemption. Again, that is not a problem.
“What we do ask is that, when asked by a steward or member of staff, you have your proof of exemption to hand and that you show it to the person who has made the request.
“Remember, if you don’t have proof with you, a club validated exemption card is available for you to use at our west stand ticket office.
“We thank you once again for your help with this. Brunton Park must operate within a higher set of rules when it comes to face coverings, and the checking of exemptions, than other public places if we are to continue to demonstrate that we are Covid safe and ready to welcome larger numbers for our home games.
“This is a new match day arrangement but I am sure all of our fans understand that we have to make this work.”