Coronavirus: Golf, tennis and gym facilities to stay closed during lockdown

Boris Johnson has confirmed golf courses, tennis courts, swimming pools and gyms in England will remain closed when England goes into a second lockdown on Thursday.

The Prime Minister initially announced on Saturday evening that a four-week ‘circuit break’ lockdown would begin on Thursday, November 5 in England, with golf courses, tennis courts, gyms and climbing centres all falling under the outdoor leisure facilities that would be ordered to close to “reduce social contact”.

After delivering a statement to the House of Commons on Monday afternoon, the Prime Minister was asked by Bracknell MP James Sunderland whether leisure facilities including golf courses might be exempted from the rules, given the socially-distanced nature of the sport.

“I must apologise to my honourable friend for not being able to offer the house a huge list of exemptions to the rules we’ve set out,” Johnson said.

“Because once you unpick at one thing alas the effectiveness of the whole package is compromised. That’s why I want everyone to work together for the next four weeks to get the R rate under control so that we can open things up again in time for December.”

The chair of the Digital, Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS) committee, Julian Knight, had been among those calling for golf courses and tennis courts to be allowed to stay open.

Jane Nickerson, the chief executive of Swim England, said it was a “horrendous” situation and fears further facilities may never reopen.

“We’ve proved beyond a shadow of a doubt that indoor leisure and swimming pools have a very low transmission of this virus and are safe places for people to go and exercise,” she said.

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“To just slam the door shut again now, my concern is that many pools won’t reopen and certainly I believe a lot won’t reopen now before Christmas. We’ve lost 200 swimming pools already following the first lockdown, I think an awful lot more can follow suit.

“We know that swimming is immensely valuable to the health of the nation. Our Value of Swimming report we launched last year showed that we save the NHS and social care system £357m a year on just six different conditions. And people who can’t exercise on land and can exercise in water, we’re just slamming the door on them.”

England Boxing chief executive Gethin Jenkins has warned of the “dire” consequences for clubs facing the prospect of another lockdown.

While professional boxing and the GB Boxing programme are set to continue under current regulations, the amateur side of the sport is set to be shut down.

Jenkins said: “If proper funding can’t be obtained, then the implications for our clubs is dire.

“A majority of our clubs operate in some of the most marginalised areas of the country and have been hardest hit.”

Former DCMS committee chair Damian Collins is among a group of MPs who have called on the Government to allow under-18s to continue participating in outdoor grassroots sport, including team sports such as football, when the new measures take effect.

In a letter to Culture Secretary Oliver Dowden, the MPs wrote: “Young people will currently be allowed to continue with sport at school, and we believe that the risks to the spread of coronavirus from outdoor grassroots youth sport would be minimal.

“There would however be clear and lasting benefits for these young people if the Government could support this.”

A petition has been set up calling for grassroots football to be allowed to continue during the new lockdown period.

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