By Prof Dr Ian Blackshaw
With effect from 29 March 2021, grass roots sport has returned as part of an easing of the COVID-19 restrictions in place in England.
Outdoor sports, including football, golf and tennis, resumes for amateur players. Other facilities, such as cricket pitches, basketball courts, tennis courts and outdoor swimming pools are allowed to reopen.
According to Sport England:
“The combination of improving weather and the vaccine rollout will boost people’s motivation and ability to be more active.”
Leisure centres, gyms and indoor swimming pools, however, will have to wait until 12 April 2021 before being able to reopen.
According to the UK Sports Minister, Nigel Huddlestone:
“Over the past year, we have prioritised the importance of physical activity permitting basic exercise at all times. However, the reality is that activity levels have still dropped [during the latest lockdown which began on 4 January 2021], that is why outdoor grassroots sport reopening today [29 March 2021] is so important.”
As regards horseracing, amateur jockeys will be able to return, in time for next week’s Grand National meeting.
By 17 May 2021, adult indoor group sports and exercise classes may resume.
By the same date, large, outdoor, seated venues with up to 10,000 people or 25% of the total seated capacity, whichever is less, will be permitted.
There are special rules that apply to Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland.
The reopening of grass roots sports activities is a welcome development!