The World Darts Championship, where 80,000 raucous fans are packing Alexandra Palace throughout the next fortnight, has been labelled ‘Covid spreading on steroids’ by public health experts.

This fancy-dress festival exploded into life yesterday in London with over 3,000 attendees for the opening session. The patrons were also in great voice.

Similar numbers can attend each of the 28 sessions through January 3. 

However, Professor Keith Neal from the University of Nottingham is an expert on public health and has stated that the Omicron variant spreads too quickly across the country. This makes it extremely risky. He also said that the event should not have been allowed to proceed with supporters present.

‘I would tell the local authorities do not let it happen with a crowd,’ said Prof Neal. ‘It is ridiculous. The public transportation system will allow people to travel.

‘It is Covid spreading on steroids. There is no concept of social distancing and they will not be wearing masks because they are drinking.’

Fans in fancy dress during day one of the World Darts Championship at Alexandra Palace

The World Darts Championships at Alexandra Palace Day One: Fans dressed up in fancy dresses

Public health experts have expressed concern about the potential spread of the Omicron Covid variant among darts fans at the championship during its fortnight at Ally Pally

Omicron Covid was reportedly spreading among darts players at the Ally Pally championship.

Organisers PDC say all fans must show a Covid pass to enter the London venue

PDC insists that every fan must present a Covid card to get into the London venue.

Yesterday’s London party saw many people dressed as Scooby Doo and Robin Hood to enjoy the fun and revel in Omicron.

The annual knees up, famous for its feel-good atmosphere, is allowed to go ahead with fans under the Government’s Plan B measures.

At entry, Darts supporters must show a NHS Covid Pass. This includes proof that you have been fully vaccinated or that you had a negative lateral flow test performed on the day.


Covid holders must show proof of their status with one of these:

• Proof of full vaccination

• Proof of natural immunity based upon a positive PCR test within 180 days of the event and following completion of the required self-isolation period

• Proof of a negative NHS Lateral Flow Test taken on the day of the event 

After a sour vote on Tuesday night in Parliament, the rules came into effect on Wednesday morning.

They were developed in response to the Omicron variant’s ‘tidal flood’ of infection.

Professional Darts Corporation (PDC) warned that fans who are unable to show their Covid status at the event will be refused entry.

However, Prof Neal claimed that Covid passes are a weak defense against Omicron Covid.

‘You need at least three doses of vaccine for an effective Covid pass with Omicron,’ he said.

Eddie Hearn (PDC Chairman) insists the show remains safe, and that it will continue even if restrictions are tightened and fans banned.

‘We are all used to it now as a business,’ Hearn, who took over from father Barry as head of the events organisation last April, told the Sun.

‘We will always adhere to the government rules. We’ll make it a safe and friendly place for customers. And we will adjust if necessary under any rule changes.

Individuals attending are asked to wear masks, except when eating or drinking

Participants are requested to don masks except for when they are eating or drinking.

One spectator was dressed as Scooby Doo as he and others got in the spirit of fancy dress

One person dressed up in fancy dress as Scooby Doo.

PDC chairman Eddie Hearn is in charge of the Darts World Championship this fortnight

Eddie Hearn, chairman of PDC is responsible for the Darts World Championship in this fortnight

‘If we have to adapt in the circumstances – whether that is distancing, implementing masks in the venue or reducing the crowds – we have the expertise to do all of that.

“It would really be a shame since we missed it last time and it’s back full-force this year. It is time to wear fancy clothes.

While fans will not be allowed to remove their face covers while eating and drinking, they must still wear them around the venue.

On Wednesday, Gerwyn Price defeated Ritchie Edhouse 3-1 and became the defending champion.

With victory over Gary Anderson, the Welshman won the title in 2021. The final was held behind closed doors in January.

Prof. Paul Hunter from the University of East Anglia, an epidemiologist, stated that face coverings can help to reduce spread of darts fandom.

But he admitted his public health colleague Prof Neal is ‘probably right’ in his assessment of the Covid risk at the Championships.

‘It has the potential to be a super-spreader event,’ said Prof Hunter. ‘Within London at the moment, that is where Omicron is rapidly taking off.’

Scenes at Ally Pally, north London, are stark contrast to other parts of London, where residents are following the advice from the government and staying home while attending social events. 

London’s roads were quietest in rush hour during Monday morning rush-hour since summer.

The congestion level reported by TomTom in the capital between 8am and 9am today was 49 per cent – the lowest figure for that period since the end of the summer holidays on September 3, excluding October half-term.

The Chief Medical Officer also warned today of the anticipated surge in infection rates, saying that it was “entirely possible” the daily number in hospital Covid-19 admissions could surpass the January peak of 4,583. As nurses, doctors, and other healthcare professionals become more ill or move into isolation in the wake of a large wave, this could lead to huge staffing shortages for NHS.  

Few commuters used London Waterloo station this morning as rail passenger numbers continue to drop following the Omicron variant's emergence

London Waterloo station was not used today by commuters, because rail passenger numbers are continuing to fall since the Omicron variant emerged.

A very quiet Oxford Street in London's West End today despite this time of year normally being the peak shopping season and the streets packed full of people buying presents

Even though this is the peak holiday season for shopping, London’s West End sees a very calm Oxford Street today. Streets are usually crowded and people buy presents.

Westminster Bridge also looked very quiet during the morning rush hour in London today

The morning rush hour at London’s Westminster Bridge today was very calm.

Professor Whitty last night warned that Omicron’s ‘all the bad things we know’ were true. He told MPs today about hospitalisations, ‘I don’t want this to happen as I’m saying it will. While there are many options, I don’t believe that the top of 4,500 (or 4,583) people who were admitted to the hospital at this absolute peak is the only one.

“It’s possible because this is very concentrated. It’s concentrated over short periods of time so even though it may be milder than the number that you would get if you went to hospital in one day, that could still mean that it will cause a significant increase. This is completely possible. You might be able to do it less. However, I am merely stating that it is possible.

However, there are two limitations. One is that patients could stay in the hospital longer due to prior vaccine protection. The other is that fewer patients might need intensive care.