Competitve sport will be allowed from Monday 'behind closed doors'

30 May 2020, 17:57

Culture Secretary Oliver Dowden announced the measures today
Culture Secretary Oliver Dowden announced the measures today. Picture: PA

By Matt Drake

Live sport will be allowed from June 1 behind closed doors, the UK Government has announced.

Competitive sport will be allowed for the first time in three months as long as it is "in safe and carefully controlled environments".

It follows an update last Monday from the UK Government which gave permission for competitive training to resume for all sports.

The 'Stage three' of elite sport guidance says there will be no spectators at live sporting events.

The announcement adds that a "screening process" will take place for people entering venues and dressing rooms. Physiotherapy will also be minimised and health staff must abide by Public Health England safety measures for PPE.

Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport, Oliver Dowden, said: "The wait is over. Live British sport will shortly be back on in safe and carefully controlled environments.

"This guidance provides the safe framework for sports to resume competitions behind closed doors. It is now up to individual sports to confirm they can meet these protocols and decide when it's right for them to restart.

"This is a significant moment for British sport. By working with clinicians every step of the way, we are creating the safest possible environments for everyone involved."

Mr Dowden also revealed that groups of up to six people from different households should be able to exercise together from Monday.

During the Downing Street press conference, he said: "Today I am also glad to confirm that we are relaxing the rules on exercise further so that from Monday people will be able to exercise with up to five others from different households, crucially, so long as they remain two metres apart.

"That means that people who play team sports will be able to play together, and do things like conditioning and fitness sessions that don't involve physical contact."

"The British sporting recovery has begun," he added.

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When asked whether the Government is still being led by the science in its relaxation of coronavirus rules, Culture Secretary Oliver Dowden said: "Yes we continue to be led by the science" and that "today's guidance is an excellent example of that."

He told the briefing at Number 10 that officials "have had extensive discussions with the sporting bodies concerned" and the impact of bringing back live sport behind closed doors "is going to be exceptionally minimal".

Other things will need to be considered such as the "need to make sure people don't congregate around stadiums", he added.

But he called the measures an "example of us working hand in glove with the scientists".

Deputy chief medical officer for England, Professor Jonathan Van-Tam described elite sportspeople as a "tiny but important fraction of our society".

He said that "it's very clear that playing elite sport again in those very limited circumstances with carefully controlled measures" is not "going to have any meaningful impact on R."

Speaking to the daily briefing, he added: "It would be potentially completely different if there were lots of full stadia, and all of the activities that go around going to a sports game - the restaurants, the pubs, the bars - but we're not in that space at the moment.

"I think there's a dual responsibility here that contact tracing has got to go well, but the public have also got to engage with it and to take the advice about self-isolation, if it's given because you're a contact, very seriously."

He added that people must be reasonable about their approach to the easing of restrictions and be "sensible and proportionate" with the freedom they are being given and "it is up to each individual sport to apply (Government) guidelines and determine the way in which they do so".

Premier League Chief Executive Richard Masters said: "The Premier League welcomes the Government's announcement today.

"All major sports, including the Premier League, have been working together with the Department of Digital, Culture, Media and Sport to produce this Stage Three protocol.

"We could not have reached this point without the full support of the Government, especially DCMS, Public Health England and the Chief Medical Officer's team.

"We have provisionally planned to restart the Premier League on 17 June, but there is still much work to be done to ensure the safety of everyone involved. This includes consulting with our clubs, players and managers - along with all our other stakeholders - as the health and welfare of our participants and supporters is our priority.

"If all goes well, we will be thrilled to resume the 2019/20 season in just over two weeks' time."