Return of grassroots sport and leisure facilities welcomed

Sport England chief executive Tim Hollingsworth has welcomed the Prime Minister’s announcement that grassroots sport, activity and leisure facilities will be more widely opened next week.

The news came during the Prime Minister’s address in the House of Commons, outlining the tiered system the country will return to once national restrictions come to an end on Wednesday, 2 December.

He announced that organised sport and physical activity will return under all tiers, though Sport England expects there to be specific guidance for contact activities.

Gyms and leisure facilities will also reopen across the country and there was also positive news about the return of spectators.

Organised activity for elite athletes, U18s and disabled people can also take place across every tier.

Organised outdoor grassroots sport will be allowed to resume from 2 December across all levels, providing social distancing remains in place, although there will be some restrictions on highest-risk activity in tier three areas.

Spectators at non-elite sports will be able to attend events in line with Covid-secure guidance for each tier.

Indoor sport and physical activity will also resume, although there will be restrictions on some activities due to the higher transmission risk of coronavirus in an indoor setting. Restrictions will depend on the alert level that applies to your local area.

Tim Hollingsworth said the news is very welcome for everyone who has so badly missed the usual opportunities to play sport and keep active.

“Huge credit is due to the many organisations and individuals who have worked so hard to evidence how safe their activities and facilities are and to set out so clearly what they are doing to reduce risk,” he said.

“From the Prime Minister down, there is now a strong recognition of the vital benefits of playing sport and being active, not just for your physical wellbeing, but also crucially as a support for your mental health.

“As we head into the winter months, having a range of safe opportunities available like this is more important than ever.”

Oliver Dowden, Secretary of State for digital, Culture, Media and Sport, said there would be significant health benefits to reopening sports.

“This is a big step forward for sport. Bringing grassroots sport back was my number one priority so I’m pleased we are reopening sports and gyms in every tier, in recognition of the significant health benefits.

“I’m also delighted we are able to get the turnstiles turning sooner than expected, taking a cautious approach and starting with the lowest risk areas first.

"I’m confident that sports will take every step to ensure their fans are safe, and fans will play their part and look out for each other until we can safely get everyone back in.”

These new rules will be debated and voted on by MPs and, if approved, come into effect from 2 December.

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