In line with the government’s roadmap, from today, all outdoor sports facilities can reopen for activities. The reopenings pave the way for organised outdoor team sports resuming, in full, for all ages and skill levels – subject to guidance by individual national governing bodies of sport.
It comes as the ‘stay at home’ message ends and ‘rule of six’ is reintroduced, which means that outdoor gatherings of either six people or two households are allowed. Social contact rules will not apply to outdoor, organised team sport.
The reopenings have been accompanied by the government urging the public to get physically active.
Prime Minister Boris Johnson said: “I know how much people have missed the camaraderie and competition of organised sport, and how difficult it has been to restrict physical activities – especially for children.
“So as teams return to outdoor pitches, courts, parks and fields, I hope today will kick-start a Great British summer of sport – with people of all ages reunited with teammates, and able to resume the activities they love.
“I know many will welcome the increased social contact, with groups of 6 or two households now also able to meet outdoors.
“But we must remain cautious, with cases rising across Europe and new variants threatening our vaccine rollout. Despite today’s easements, everyone must continue to stick to the rules, remember hands, face, space, and come forward for a vaccine when called.”
Today’s reopening of outdoor sports will be followed by the relaunch of adult indoor sports as part of reopenings taking place on 17 May. The May reopenings 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 of repoenings, on 21 June, will see all legal limits on social contact being removed – meaning that the rest of the summer’s sporting events could be played in front of full-capacity stadiums. 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.
SAPCA chief executive Chris Trickey said: “The restarting of outdoor sports today is another important landmark on the journey out of pandemic restrictions. Sport plays an important role in the life of millions of people and it is great to have pitches, courts, tracks and other facilities up and running again.
“While indoor sports facilities will have to wait a little longer, we fully support the Prime Minister’s ‘cautious but irreversible’ approach. 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 has published a facility reopening guide, to help facility operators and organisations prepare for the relaunch of sport. You can access the guide here.