Many local sports clubs have welcomed the news that a recent ban on outdoor grassroots sport is going to be lifted in England when the national lockdown ends at the beginning of December. It is also believed that many gyms are also set to reopen.
Widespread reports suggest that Prime Minister Boris Johnson will be delivering a statement to the House of Commons unveiling a lifting of certain Covid-19 restrictions from December 2nd, which MPs will then vote on. While there will still be a robust tier system in place, outdoor grassroots sport will be allowed across all of the regional tiers.
It has been a tough month for many amatuer sports players, who in addition to all of the other restrictions, had seen their opportunities for amatuer team sport on hold since November 5th. Despite the vast majority of clubs being very careful with distancing measures, general cleanliness and the handling of any outdoor sports equipment, virus levels had seen activity restricted.
This blanket closure had impacted leisure centres, gyms, outdoor leisure facilities and golf courses, as well as adult and children’s grassroots sport including football and rugby. Discussing grassroots sport, the Culture Secretary Oliver Dowden recently told media outlets: “I’m desperate for it to come back. I am pretty hopeful and confident as we go back into the tier system. It’s top of the list for us to get it back from 2 December. I know how valuable it is. We have to go through a proper process of evaluating the evidence; we have to wait until the final decisions are made.”
Recently, a £300m fund for the support of spectator sports in England was announced, but there was no funding specifically allocated for recreational sport. This was not satisfactory to organisations such as the Sport and Recreation Alliance, with their chief executive Lisa Wainwright saying “it is critical that a proportion of this money goes to the lifeblood of each sport at the community level.
She added: “It remains crucial that community sport and recreation is opened up as soon as possible to enhance the physical and mental health of the nation as we move out of the debilitating effects of lockdown. While this release of funding is a very welcome development, we should remember that many sports are not covered by this package and they remain in a perilous situation with clubs and community centres struggling to survive the latest restrictions. To this extent, community sport and leisure still stands on a precipice.”