• Fri. Mar 5th, 2021

Outdoor sports to return next month as lockdown eases


Feb 22, 2021

Organised outdoor sports is due to return on March 29(Picture: Getty/PA)

Some outdoor sports will return to the UK by the end of March, Boris Johnson has confirmed. 

The move will be a boost to players from various different sports, who have been unable to play for months on end, since England entered its third national lockdown.

Organised adult and children’s sport – including grassroots football – can return from March 29. Outdoor facilities such as tennis and basketball courts and open air swimming pools will also reopen then. Mr Johnson said that included allowing ‘formally organised outdoor sports’ to resume ‘subject to guidance’.

Pupils will also benefit from the move, with schools returning from March 8 and PE set to restart.

Indoor gyms and leisure facilities, such as swimming pools, will be permitted to reopen no earlier than April 12 – but the requirements for social contact in indoor settings will continue.

The plan is part of the Prime Minister’s roadmap out of coronavirus lockdown, which he announced this afternoon.

He told the House of Commons: ‘Other children’s activities, including sport, can restart where necessary to help parents to work (from March 8).’

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‘Outdoor sports facilities, such as tennis and basketball courts and open-air swimming pools, will be able to reopen and formally organised outdoor sports will resume, subject to guidance.’

Step three of the roadmap out of lockdown will see fans allowed to sporting events, from May 17 at the very earliest.

Mr Johnson said: ‘The turnstiles of our sports stadia will once again rotate, subject in all cases to capacity limits depending on the size of the venue.’

Earlier today, vaccines minister Nadhim Zahawi confirmed that outdoor sports would return on March 29, including organised team sports, but declined to say when gyms could reopen.

‘The simple way to look at this is that outdoor is safer and therefore we prioritise versus indoor,’ he told LBC.

Golfers will be able to return to courses (Picture: PA)

‘Outdoor sports – tennis, golf, outdoor organised team sports, grassroots football – will go back on March 29.’

Pushed on when gyms and fitness centres could reopen, he added: ‘At the moment, it’s outdoors versus indoors. Outdoors is the priority because it’s where the transmission rates are much, much, much lower.’

On Sunday, a leading government scientist called for the ban on outdoor sport to be lifted immediately, saying it was safe.

Highlighting studies showing that the proportion of Covid infections occurring outside is extremely low, Professor Woolhouse told The Observer: ‘This virus very rarely transmits outdoors. So, quite honestly, outdoor activities that don’t involve close physical contact could be adopted now. 

‘That is not an argument to say we can have crowds back at football matches. But sports involving small numbers of players or sports for children: they could start perfectly safely today.’

This is a breaking story – more to follow.

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