Sports events in England allowed to resume from Monday
An aerial view of Liverpool's Melwood training ground.
Sports events will be allowed to resume in England from Monday, without any spectators and providing they comply with the government's coronavirus protocols.
The guidance for elite sports bodies was published by the government on Saturday as COVID-19 lockdown restrictions that were imposed in March are eased further.
It paves the way for the planned June 17 return of the English Premier League, the world's richest football competition. The guidance includes a request that social distancing must be maintained in matches “during any disputes between players and referees, or scoring celebrations.”
Horse racing and snooker have already lined up events for Monday in anticipation of the end of an 11-week shutdown of sports.
“The wait is over," Culture Secretary Oliver Dowden said. “Live British sport will shortly be back on in safe and carefully controlled environments.”
Athletes and other staff will be required to travel to venues individually and by private transport where possible. Screening for coronavirus symptoms is required before entering.
Where social distancing cannot be maintained — staying 2 metres (6 feet) apart — activities need to be risk assessed and mitigated. Media have been told to “minimise crossover” with others at the venue, including players.
“This guidance provides the safe framework for sports to resume competitions behind closed doors," Dowden said. "It is now up to individual sports to confirm they can meet these protocols and decide when it’s right for them to restart.
“This is a significant moment for British sport. By working with clinicians every step of the way, we are creating the safest possible environments for everyone involved.”
The first major event after the resumption of sports is set to be the 2,000 Guineas horse race next Saturday at Newmarket, with jockeys wearing face masks.
But the government is not yet prepared to allow non-elite sports to resume, denying regular citizens the chance to play cricket and football in a park.
“We are working hard to get grassroots sport back up and running safely too so that people can reunite with their own football, rugby or cricket teammates and get back on their pitches, fields or athletic tracks," Sports Minister Nigel Huddleston said. "But we will only do this when it is safe and appropriate to do so, based upon scientific advice.”
The government, however, will from Monday allow groups of six people from different households to exercise outside as long as they remain two metres apart. Currently, only two people from different households can meet up.