All competitive, grass-roots team sports can begin returning to business in England from Saturday 11 July.
The government announced the move as part of further easing of lockdown measures, which will also see the opening of indoor gyms and sports halls from 25 July.
Small groups of spectators will be allowed at sports events, as long as social distancing and other COVID-19 measures are adhered to.
Before resuming competitive games, however, each individual sport will have to submit an action plan and related guidance to the government. In their submissions, national governing bodies of sport will have to demonstrate the steps they will take to mitigate infection risks, their specific operational plans and the adaptations that clubs and facilities will be required to undertake.
Once the plans have been approved by the government, games and activities can resume.
The action plans must also recognise that the return of recreational sport may need to be paused, in the event of a raised Covid-19 threat level either nationally or locally.
“This is fantastic news for community sports clubs and facility operators – as well as the entire sports industry and the general public,” said Chris Trickey, CEO of SAPCA.
“We welcome the government’s decision to give sport the green light and will continue to work with our members, national governing bodies and other stakeholders to help facility operators and the wider industry to return to business in a safe manner.”
As part of the announcement to allow sport to return, the government has updated its Return to recreational team sport framework document.
Included in the guidance is detailed advice for facility managers and owners.
“The updated guidance sets out how community sport can be done safely, so many more sports can get going again,” said Sports Minister Nigel Huddleston.
“Sports governing bodies are now putting stringent measures in place so that the millions of people that play, officiate and volunteer can keep safe while enjoying all the benefits that grassroots sport brings.”
As sport is a devolved matter, the latest guidance is applicable to recreational sports in England and the landscape for grassroots sport looks slightly different in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland.
In Scotland, First Minister Nicola Sturgeon indicated that contact sport – and indoor gym activities – would likely not resume before 31 July, though this is not a firm date.
In Northern Ireland, competitive sport is now allowed and all indoor sports facilities – except swimming pools – will be allowed to reopen from 17 July.
To access the latest guidance for England, click here.