Outdoor sport will be permitted from end of March - but what about fans and indoor sport?

There is positive news for sport today as the government starts to reveal how the country will come out of lockdown.

Monday, 22nd February 2021, 10:03 am
Tennis and many other outdoor sports are set to be permitted from March 29

It's been confirmed that from March 29, outdoor sports facilities such as tennis or basketball courts will reopen - and organised adult and children's sport, such as grassroots football, will also return.

The news will delight the many who have prevented from playing sport since Christmas. It is dependent on the continued decline in coronavirus cases and the successful ongoing rollout of vaccines.

There is no news yet about when fans will be allowed to return to grounds - which is crucial for football at non-league level, where clubs have said they simply can't afford to play and pay their players and staff without gate income.

Vaccines minister Nadhim Zahawi told LBC radio listeners outdoor sports - including organised adult and children's sport - would return, but declined to say when gyms would reopen.

"Outdoor is safer and therefore we prioritise versus indoor," he said. "Outdoor sports - tennis, golf, outdoor organised team sports, grassroots football - will go back on 29 March."

When asked whether gyms and fitness centres could reopen, Mr Zahawi added: "At the moment, it's outdoors versus indoors. Outdoors is the priority because it's where the transmission rates are much, much, much lower."

Prime minister Boris Johnson may reveal more detail about the return of sport and fans when he speaks on Monday afternoon. He is due to address MPs at 3.30pm and stage a televised speech at 7pm.

In the meantime sport clubs and players everywhere will be starting to make plans for March 29 - and hoping normality is finally on the way back.

On the non-league front, the bosses of the Isthmian League and their Southern and Northern League counterparts will meet on Tuesday to decide whether to null and void their seasons or find some way of salvaging them. Their decision will then have to go to the FA Council to be ratified.

Sport's big return on March 29 will be the second phase of the easing of lockdown measures- the first of which is the reopening of all schools for all children on March 8.

The government says that before moving on to each next step of easing lockdown, there are four conditions that must be met.

The four tests are: The vaccine programme continues successfully; Evidence shows vaccines are sufficiently reducing the number of people dying with the virus or hospitalised; Infection rates do not risk a surge in hospitalisations which would put unsustainable pressure on the NHS; The assessment of the risks is not fundamentally changed by new variants of concern.

* What's your view on the latest news about sport returning? Email [email protected] or tweet @SportSussex