Domestic competitive sport behind closed doors will be allowed from Monday, the UK government says.
The ‘phase three’ guidance paves the way for live sport to return on 1 June for the first time since mid-March.
It is up to individual sports to assess the risk, and consult athletes, coaches and support staff.
Clubs in England’s top flight returned to ‘phase two’ contact training on 25 May.
On Saturday, the Premier League confirmed that no players or staff tested positive from the latest batch of 1,130 coronavirus tests conducted on Thursday and Friday. So far, 12 people have tested positive from 3,882 tests across the league.
“The wait is over. Live British sport will shortly be back on in safe and carefully controlled environments,” said the Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport, Oliver Dowden.
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“This guidance provides the safe framework for sports to resume competitions behind closed doors. It is now up to individual sports to confirm they can meet these protocols and decide when it’s right for them to restart.”
Speaking at the daily UK Government coronavirus briefing, Dowden added: “Football, tennis, horse racing, Formula 1, cricket, golf, rugby, snooker and others are all set to return to our screens shortly.”
The key protocols that must be adhered to:
- All competition delivery partners and user groups involved, from the teams and athletes, to the support staff, officials and media, must travel individually and by private transport where possible
- Prior to entering the competition venue, they are expected to carry out a screening process for coronavirus symptoms. Anyone with known or suspected Covid-19 will not be permitted to enter and should be placed, or remain, in isolation
- Social distancing should be maintained by all groups where possible. This includes the competing athletes and support staff on the bench and field of play, such as during any disputes between players and referees, or scoring celebrations
- Dressing room usage should be minimised. However, showers can be used
- Competition delivery partners and elite sports organisations should appoint a named Covid-19 officer to be responsible for oversight of all planning and communications
Premier League chief executive Richard Masters “welcomed” the decision, adding: “We have provisionally planned to restart the Premier League on 17 June, but there is still much work to be done to ensure the safety of everyone involved.
“If all goes well, we will be thrilled to resume the 2019-20 season in just over two weeks’ time.”
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Four Premier League games will be broadcast, free to air, live on BBC Sport when the season resumes.
With concerns between Premier League clubs wanting to play at their own stadiums, and police forces requesting neutral venues, Dowden said the police and local authorities will determine where matches will be played.
Professor Jonathan Van-Tam, the UK’s deputy chief medical officer, said fans congregating outside stadiums as football returns is “clearly a police matter”.
“There has to be enough understanding that the venue can cope with the segregation and the organisation and the social distancing right up from the kick-off until the final whistle to make that the safest possible experience for everybody there,” he said.
“And that’s going to be a crucial factor in choosing these venues.”
The government also announced that people in England will be able to exercise outside with up to five others from different households from Monday, provided that social distancing guidelines are followed.
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This means people who play team sports can meet to train together and do things like conditioning or fitness sessions, although physical contact is not allowed.
It will also allow parents to accompany their children to coaching sessions carried out on a one-to-one basis or in small groups.
The updated public guidance will be published on Monday.
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