Outdoor grassroots sports will return in England from 29 March, prime minister Boris Johnson confirmed on Monday, meaning football, rugby, golf, cricket and tennis can be played at amateur level.
While schools will be allowed to reopen as of 8 March, and friends and extended family members will again be permitted to meet in public spaces, outdoor gatherings of six people or two households will be given the okay three weeks later.
And that means cricket clubs, tennis courts, golf courses and other outside sports facilities will be permitted to reopen in the ‘roadmap to recovery’ following the latest lockdown measures across the country, which were brought into place on 4 January.
Johnson unveiled the measures in parliament as part of the government’s plans to gradually relax restrictions relating to the Covid-19 pandemic which has blighted both amateur and professional sports over the past 12 months.
Earlier on Monday, vaccines minister Nadhim Zahawi had given full details of the planned reopenings to LBC, explaining: “Outdoor is safer, and therefore we prioritise that versus indoor.
“Outdoor sports, tennis, golf, outdoor organised team sports, grassroots football, will go back on 29 March. At the moment, it’s outdoors versus indoors, outdoors is the priority because it’s where the transmission rates are much, much lower.”
The prime minister also confirmed that the government will look to introduce a third step “no earlier than” 17 May, which will see further restrictions lifted.
“Most restrictions outdoors will be lifted, subject to a limit of 30 people. This is the point where you will be able to see your friends and family indoors subject to the meeting of two households,” he said of the 17 May plans, adding that cinemas, theatres, sports stadiums and some other venues could reopen.
All levels of grassroots football have been suspended for since January while the sixth-tier National Leagues North and South were declared null and void recently, becoming the latest level of sport to bring an end to ongoing seasons.