Covid in England: Professional sport to continue as government announces national lockdown

Bath are set to host Wasps on Friday in the first of this weekend’s Gallagher Premiership matches

Professional sport in England can continue behind closed doors, despite a new national lockdown announced by Prime Minister Boris Johnson.

It means Premier League football and elite leagues in other sports are allowed to carry on.

People living in England have been told to stay at home and schools will shut for most pupils from Tuesday.

Exercising outside is allowed once a day, but venues such as gyms, tennis courts and golf courses will be closed.

On Monday, the UK recorded more than 50,000 new confirmed Covid cases for the seventh day in a row.

The rules regarding sport and leisure activities in England are similar to those announced in Scotland earlier on Monday.

Following Monday’s announcement by the prime minister, this week’s sporting fixtures in England are set to go ahead as planned.

In football, the Carabao Cup semi-finals are being played on Tuesday and Wednesday, while the FA Cup third round – which has 32 fixtures spanning four days – starts on Friday.

There are also several Women’s Super League, English Football League and National League games set to take place, as well as English Premiership and Premier 15s rugby union matches, plus the Masters snooker event in Milton Keynes.

Earlier on Monday, Rochdale chief executive David Bottomley said he believes it is “inevitable” that the EFL will have to temporarily suspend fixtures because of rising coronavirus cases.

Seven of last Saturday’s EFL games – and 52 across the season – have been called off as teams are affected by the virus.

Four Premier League matches have also been postponed this season because of coronavirus cases.

What does the new lockdown mean for sport in England?

The UK government published its guidance for England’s new national lockdown shortly after the prime minister’s televised address at 20:00 GMT.

Here are the points relating to sport and physical activity:

  • Elite sportspeople (and their coaches if necessary, or parents/guardians if they are under 18) – or those on an official elite sports pathway – to compete and train
  • Indoor gyms and sports facilities will remain closed
  • Outdoor sports courts, outdoor gyms, golf courses, outdoor swimming pools, archery/driving/shooting ranges and riding arenas must also close
  • Organised outdoor sport for disabled people is allowed to continue

Where can I exercise and who can I exercise with?

You can exercise in a public outdoor place:

  • by yourself
  • with the people you live with
  • with your support bubble ( if you are legally permitted to form one)
  • in a childcare bubble where providing childcare
  • or, when on your own, with one person from another household

Public outdoor places include:

  • parks, beaches, countryside accessible to the public, forests
  • public gardens (whether or not you pay to enter them)
  • the grounds of a heritage site
  • playgrounds

More to follow.

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