Sport fans and players given hope of a return following government roadmap out of lockdown
- Credit: NEIL METCALFE
Sports fans will be allowed back into grounds and stadiums from May following an announcement from the government - with grassroots sports given the green light to resume from the end of March.
The news formed part of Prime Minister Boris Johnson's road map for the easing of lockdown restrictions to limit the spread of coronavirus, presented to the House of Commons on Monday afternoon.
The plan depends on certain criteria being met but the May 17 date does give hope to all the players and spectators deprived of action, in some cases since November.
Indoor events will be capped at 50 per cent capacity or 1,000, whichever is lower, and for outdoor events this will be 50 per cent capacity or 4,000, whichever is lower.
Before that organised outdoor sports for children and adults can return from March 29 with the same date also allowing the reopening of outdoor sports facilities such as tennis and basketball courts and golf courses.
From April 12 at the earliest, use of indoor leisure facilities such as gyms for individuals or household groups will be possible.
The easing of restrictions will happen on a nationwide, rather than a regional, basis.
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Outdoor hospitality venues, such as beer gardens at clubhouses, are set for an April 12 reopening date too.
Johnson said: "The chief medical officer is clear that moving any faster would mean acting before we know the impact of each step, which would increase the risk of us having to reverse course and reimpose restrictions, I won't take that risk.
"Step one will happen from March 8, by which time those in the top four priority groups will be benefiting from the increasing protection they receive from their first dose of the vaccine.
"The turnstiles of our sports stadia will once again rotate [from May 17] subject in all cases to capacity limits depending on the size of the venue."
Larger events will be piloted using "enhanced testing" with an ambition of further easing of restrictions in the next step.
Details of how it affects each sport will come in due course from the respective governing bodies.