Sunday, March 7

Elite matches to continue, but all grassroots sports suspended in England | Sport


Professional sports have been given the go-ahead to continue even though the coronavirus alert has been moved to five, the highest possible level. In addition to gyms and indoor pools, which must already be closed under Tier 4 rules, golf courses, tennis courts, and outdoor gyms and swimming pools in England must close for at least the next seven weeks under strict new lock down rules announced Monday night by Prime Minister Boris Johnson.

Organized team sport for under-18s is also suspended for the foreseeable future, while indoor gyms, swimming pools and leisure centers may also not open. Indoor gyms and swimming pools had already been forced to close under level 4 restrictions imposed on most of England in December. However, people will be able to run and walk with someone outside their home, once a day, while golfers in Scotland will still be able to play.

While admitting that the measures were necessary, UK Active, which represents more than 4,000 gyms and leisure centers, said they would “raise the alarm” for jobs and companies in the sector and warned of the risks to the physical and mental health of people.

UK Active CEO Huw Edwards said: “The additional restrictions show the severity of this new chapter in the fight against Covid-19 and it is crucial that they are respected. But we also know that, despite positive government stimulus, physical activity levels fell dramatically and significantly during previous lock downs. UK governments must protect this sector before it’s too late. “

Operators of all sizes in the UK are sounding the alarm that their businesses are unsustainable and face substantial job losses if forced to close again without a comprehensive package of customized financial and regulatory support. “

The elite sport was given the green light to continue despite more than 50 matches in the Premier League, English Soccer League and National League having been canceled since Christmas, with the government satisfied with the safety precautions in place for training and the competition.

There are also no plans for the Premier League or Football League to impose a ‘circuit cut’, although they are preparing for further postponements in the coming days with all 92 clubs from the first four English divisions having Covid tests this week. So far, only Premier League players have been screened regularly, and lower league clubs rely on testing after symptoms emerge and on contact tracing.

The Women’s Super League will continue, as will the women’s second division, the Championship, but all other women’s leagues in England will be suspended, including the Women’s FA Cup, as it does not have elite status.

Soccer’s policy of keeping calm and moving on was questioned by Rochdale CEO David Bottomley, who said it was “inevitable” that the Football League would have to temporarily suspend games due to the increase in coronavirus cases. He said: “Hospitals across the UK are being told that they will face a massive increase in Covid cases, so who are we in football to try to add to that situation?”

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www.theguardian.com

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