Recreational cricket is set to resume in England from Saturday, 11 July, says Prime Minister Boris Johnson.
Johnson had previously said on Friday that it was not yet safe to play the game at grassroots level because of issues with “teas and dressing rooms”.
However, in a later briefing, he said the government would publish guidelines to help clubs and players prepare for the sport’s return.
Chief medical officer Chris Whitty said it was “very safe” to resume playing.
England’s men will play West Indies in a three-Test series in a bio-secure environment from 8 July.
Whitty said it should be possible to make the game “safe at a distance”, adding that players should not hug one another or apply saliva to a ball.
The use of saliva will not be allowed during England’s Test series and during warm-up matches players have celebrated by bumping elbows.
The England and Wales Cricket Board (ECB) said it was “delighted” at the government’s decision.
“We believe we have a role to play in getting people active across the country, especially young people,” chief executive Tom Harrison said.
“It is heartening to know that club cricket – albeit with social distancing in place and some other adaptations – will soon be back across England.”
Johnson had been criticised by a number of players – both at domestic and grassroots level – for not allowing recreational cricket to resume.
The head of Badminton England criticised Johnson for allowing cricket to return, but not badminton.
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“Why can a badminton club not play in a local community centre? If we all follow the same rules, what’s the problem?” Adrian Christy tweeted.
In an interview with LBC on Friday morning, Johnson said the debate about the sport’s return had “gone round and round”.
“The longer answer which I think probably Whitty would give, if he were here, about cricket – the risk is not so much the ball, although that may be a factor,” Johnson said.
“It’s the teas, it’s the changing rooms and so on and so forth. There are other factors involved that generate proximity which you might not get in a game of tennis.”
He said later in the day that he had been “stumped” by the question and “the third umpire has been invoked”.
A statement from the ECB said the risks of exposure to coronavirus were “very low” while playing cricket.
“The ECB believes that cricket is a non-contact sport, with very low risks of exposure, and that it can be played as safely as many other activities being currently permitted,” it said.
Other recreational sports such as golf, tennis and basketball have all resumed following the coronavirus lockdown, and pubs are set to reopen in England from Saturday.
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