The Sports and Play Construction Association (SAPCA) has welcomed the government’s decision to lift the ban on outdoor amateur sport and to allow spectators back into stadiums when the current lockdown ends on 2 December.
Announcing the government’s “COVID-19 Winter Plan” in parliament today (23 November), Prime Minister Boris Johnson said all grassroots and amateur sport could resume under the government’s new, three-tier COVID-19 system, which will be introduced when lockdown ends. Outdoor sports will be allowed in all three tiers of the new system.
Spectators will also be allowed back into stadiums and grounds in areas which are under Tier 1 or Tier 2 restrictions.
A maximum of 4,000 fans can attend outdoor events in Tier 1 areas, while in Tier 2 areas the maximum number of spectators has been set at 2,000.
For indoor venues, up to 1,000 spectators are allowed in Tiers 1 and 2.
Venues in Tier 3 areas will continue to be out of bounds for fans.
Gyms, health clubs and leisure centres will also be able to open their doors on 2 December. As fitness facilities aren’t included in the baseline measures for any of the three tiers, they will be able to remain operating – regardless of the level of alertness in their area.
SAPCA chief executive, Chris Trickey, says the decision offers a “lifeline” for the country’s sports clubs and organisations, which have been badly hit by the COVID-19 pandemic.
“These are tough decisions for the government to make – and public safety must always be the priority when they are made,” Trickey said.
“Therefore, the return of outdoor grassroots sport shows the trust the government is placing on our sector. It is also a reflection of the government recognising the role that sport plays in the nation’s health, society and economy. Allowing outdoor sports to resume will help keep the nation fit. Sport can be – and should be – part of the solution to COVID-19.
“This is also great news for the sports construction industry, which has worked hard during the pandemic to provide – and maintain – the facilities needed for grassroots sport to thrive.
“As we emerge from the pandemic, having the facilities needed for people to enjoy sport and physical activity will be more important than ever.
“Meanwhile, the return of spectators to elite sport events is the first step on the long journey to some measure of normality.
“We thank all our partners who have made the case to the government that sport is safe – and will look to continue to work together with them on the next steps of recovery.”
In his statement, PM Johnson also outlined restrictions on other areas of public life: “Tier one will now mean that people should continue to work from home where possible.
“The tiers will also now be a uniform set of measures, with no local negotiations.
“For any business and business owners that will be affected by the new tiered approach, I can only say that I’m very sorry for the hardship caused
“But we must get through winter without the virus getting out of control and squandering hard-won gains.”