Sport is Back - Government's Roadmap Paves Way for Return of Grassroots Sport and the Opening of Indoor and Outdoor Venues

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The government has now published its reopening roadmap, laying out the plans for the return of sport in England, following the third – and hopefully final – lockdown.

The first wave of reopenings, on 8 March, will see children and young people being able to take part in sport and physical activity at school as part of their educational provision and wraparound care. From 29 March, all outdoor grassroots sports for both adults and children will restart, subject to guidance by individual national governing bodies of sport. Indoor adult group sports will then reopen as part of the third wave of reopenings on 17 May.

“Formally organised outdoor sports for adults and under 18s will restart and will not be subject to the gatherings limits, but should be compliant with guidance issued by national governing bodies,” the roadmap states.

The third wave in May will also see a return of spectators to stadia and sports venues. Indoor sports venues will be allowed to host a maximum attendance of 1,000 people – or half their capacity (whichever is lower). Outdoor venues will be able to operate with a maximum attendance of 4,000, or half their total capacity (whichever is lower).

The largest outdoor seated venues, where spectators can spread out – such as major football and rugby stadiums – have been given special dispensation. They will be able to host crowds of 10,000 people, or 25 per cent of their full capacity (whichever is lower).

The fourth and final wave, on 21 June, will see all legal limits on social contact being removed. This could mean full-capacity stadiums for the rest of the summer’s sporting events. This could be great news for the likes of the Wimbledon Championship – scheduled for 28 June to 11 July – which was cancelled in 2020 for the first time since WWII. It is also a relief for the Rugby League World Cup 2021, which will be hosted across English cities in October and November.

To prepare for the opening of venues, the government will run a series of pilot events during April. The English Football League (EFL) has already said it will open discussions with the government over the potential of having a small number of fans attend the League Cup (Carabao Cup) final at Wembley on 25 April.

To view the full roadmap document, follow the link here.

The announcement has been heartily welcomed by SAPCA.

SAPCA chief executive Chris Trickey said: “The Prime Minister’s roadmap for the return of sport and physical activity in England is very welcome and we fully support the ‘cautious but irreversible’ approach chosen by the government. In tandem with the encouraging progress made in the rolling out of the vaccine programme, we hope this detailed plan for reopenings will bring a long-awaited end to lockdowns.

“While the disruption caused by the pandemic has been severe, it has been reassuring to see how resilient our sector is. To witness the way our members have tackled the challenges they’ve faced, while adapting to new ways of working, has been nothing short of inspiring.”

SAPCA will shortly publish a facility reopening guide, to help facility operators and organisations prepare for the relaunch of sport.


8 March

PE and school sport activities resume

29 March

Outdoor sports facilities will be allowed to reopen, and people can take part in formally organised outdoor sports.

12 April

Indoor sport and physical activity facilities, such as gyms and swimming pools, will reopen – but only for use by people on their own or with their household.

Hospitality venues – including club houses – can serve people outdoors only. There will be no need for customers to order a substantial meal with alcohol, and no curfew – although customers must order, eat and drink while seated.

17 May

Indoor adult group sports return, alongside adult exercise classes. Soft play areas can reopen.

Indoor and outdoor sport venues can reopen to spectators.

Indoor hospitality – including club houses – can reopen.

21 June

All legal limits on social contact can be removed.