Coronavirus: Elite sport to continue as England enters new national lockdown
Elite sport can continue behind closed doors during a new national lockdown in England.
Prime Minister Boris Johnson announced new restrictions for the country, in a television address on Monday evening, to combat the spread of coronavirus, particularly the new variant, with measures expected to last until mid-February.
- UK records highest daily total of new coronavirus cases
- Elite Scottish sport can continue despite new lockdown
The Premier League and other elite sports, including rugby’s Gallagher Premiership, have strict testing regimes in place.
Professional sport in Scotland is also unaffected by new coronavirus restrictions, after First Minister Nicola Sturgeon issued a general stay at home instruction from midnight.
The announcement of a third national lockdown comes as the UK recorded 58,784 new coronavirus cases on Monday – the highest daily total since the start of the pandemic.
It is the seventh day in a row that there have been more than 50,000 daily cases.
The UK’s coronavirus alert level was raised from Level 4 to Level 5 for the first time on Monday.
The Premier League, halted in March before the first national lockdown, has already postponed four fixtures since the start of December, including three last week, due to outbreaks of the virus at Manchester City, Fulham and Newcastle.
However, England’s top flight insists it has “confidence” in its Covid-19 protocols, with no plans to pause the season despite a rise in positive cases.
The Premier League is yet to announce the results from its latest set of coronavirus testing, but a season-high figure of 18 positive coronavirus tests among players and staff were confirmed between December 21-27.
All 72 EFL clubs are being tested this week, which is expected to provide a picture of the scale of infections in the Championship, League One and League Two.
So far this season 52 fixtures in the three divisions in the Football League have been postponed due to coronavirus issues.
The government placed almost all of England under Tier 3 or 4 coronavirus restrictions on December 30, which barred sports fans from attending games.
A maximum of 4,000 spectators had been allowed back at outdoor events from December 2 in tier one areas, with up to 2,000 people permitted in tier 2.
Golf courses to close
Under the new restrictions:
- People are being told to stay at home unless they have a specific reason to leave, such as those who work in the constructions sector or who are critical workers.
- Exercise is allowed – preferably limited to once a day – with their household (or support bubble) or with one other person from another household, and you should not travel outside your local area.
But outdoor gyms, tennis courts and golf courses must close, and outdoor team sports will not be permitted.
The government has confirmed leisure centres and gyms will close, as will other indoor and outdoor leisure facilities including:
- swimming pools
- golf courses
- bowling alleys
- dance studios
- riding arenas at riding centres
- climbing walls and climbing centres
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