What is the “road map”?
Boris Johnson’s plan to lift lockdown restrictions will be announced on Monday. The wider reopening of schools will be confirmed for March 8, and other sections of society will be divided into a series of four “stages,” likely between March and July, when every adult should have been offered at least one vaccination. Elite sport has been granted a dispensation to continue during this current lockdown, but there has been a demand for recreational sport to be prioritized so that people can once again reap the vast physical health benefits and mental.
Many sports and clubs are also facing enormous financial uncertainty and are in desperate need of getting back on track. There was a relatively large recovery in sport between July and December of last year and with the approach of spring and the launch of the vaccination program, the grassroots sport sector is hoping to start planning again with some certainty.
Is children’s sport a priority?
Yes. As part of the reopening of the school from March 8, outdoor sports and extracurricular activities will also resume in parallel with regular physical education classes.
Community sport organized for children will then resume three weeks later with a range of other outdoor activities. It follows The telegraph keeps the kids active campaigning and lobbying by governing bodies to bring back outdoor community children’s sport along with the wider reopening of schools.
The government was reluctant to introduce a new mix of children at the same time as the big school reopened and therefore decided to wait until the end of March before allowing community sport for children. However, there will be a major national effort next month to promote physical activity and sports after activity levels drop significantly in previous lockdowns. The resumption of sport before Easter is also extremely important for the provision of holiday sports clubs and activities – and there will be accompanying pressure to make school sports facilities accessible to the wider community.
Which sports will come back first?
March 29 will also mark the reopening of a wide range of adult outdoor sports, including grassroots football and golf, as well as facilities such as tennis and basketball courts. Sports that can be played in a socially distant manner have made strong representations to the government throughout this third national lockdown. Angling has managed to be completely exempt from the current lockdown, but tennis, golf, archery and a range of outdoor water sports have pushed to return as soon as possible and are all convinced that ‘they can return safely. Protocols are already in place after the previous lockdown and, with evidence of a significant reduction in outside transmission of Covid-19, there is a strong sense that the health and well-being benefits of the reopening of outdoor sport will outweigh the risks.
What about sports that are mainly played indoors?
The future remains more uncertain for many of these sports, which are mainly played indoors. Much will depend on Covid-19 transmission trends after schools and outdoor sports reopen in March. The success of the vaccination program will also be critical, as will plans to provide ‘surge’ testing of communities where there are variants of Covid-19.
Some indoor sports returned last year after recreation centers reopened with social distancing measures, but there are fears that many sports clubs and facility operators may be lost for good without further financial assistance. Boxing, for example, has warned that a third of clubs are in danger of extinction and, although there has been a £ 100million sports recovery fund, urgent bids are being made to the government.
When will gymnasiums, swimming pools and recreation centers reopen?
Facilities were kept largely open last year between July and December, even in Level 4 areas, and the industry is confident it has proven it can operate securely by Covid. The prevalence of Covid-19 in gyms and recreation centers averaged 1.7 cases per 100,000 when it reopened last year and the sector argued that it should be treated as a ‘service essential ”to help restore physical and mental health after the pandemic. They are pushing to reopen in April and have presented the government with their range of protocols on social distancing, ventilation and hygiene.
Indoor pools are likely to reopen to the public at the same time as gymnasiums, but Swim England wants a special waiver for pools to provide compulsory swimming lessons at schools as well as essential health and wellness services. These often provide pain management and the ability for people who cannot be active on earth to exercise.