England is continuing its move out of the coronavirus lockdown, with Culture Secretary Oliver Dowden revealing the latest easing of measures on 9 July.
In the early stages of the lockdown exit, emphasis had been placed on individual sports, but now the government has unveiled plans to bring back competitive grassroots team sports.
When will grassroots sports return?
Cricket players will be the first to benefit, with the sport set to resume from 11 July.
Other sports will be able to follow suit in the coming weeks, according to Mr Dowden.
He said, "From this weekend onwards millions of people will be able to rejoin their local sports teams as soon as their organisations publish approved guidance.
"Recreational cricket is back on this weekend, five-a-side football, basketball, hockey and countless other sports will follow shortly after.
Governing bodies for team sports must now submit a comprehensive action plan detailing how their given sport can offset the risks of coronavirus.
When will grassroots football return?
The FA welcomed the news by the government and said that it was working on an action plan.
“We are now working to submit a comprehensive action plan and related guidance for Government approval as outlined in DCMS’s (Department of Digital, Culture, Media and Sport) publication,” said the FA.
"Once approved, we will publish new guidance for the grassroots football community. We will confirm timings as soon as we are able.
"In the meantime, competitive grassroots football can prepare to return and look forward to the start of the new season."
There is no firm date in place for the return of football just yet.
Does that include 5-a-side?
Powerleague group said it was working to ensure their pitches were ready for the “big return”.
It commented, “Following last night's announcement, we're busy getting our clubs ready for the big return. Once we have further details from The FA we'll be able to share more information on when we can reopen.”
What measures must participants follow?
The government revealed a series of measures outlining steps participants and coaches should take to ensure the safe return of their sport.
These are listed below:
- Activity organisers should support track and trace efforts by collecting information on participants at both training and matches.
- All players, officials, volunteers and spectators must undergo a self-assessment for any Covid-19 symptoms. If they or anyone they live with has symptoms, they should not train, play or attend matches, and should instead self-isolate in line with public health guidance.
- Participants and spectators should minimise the use of public transport and car-sharing with anyone outside their household. They should instead walk or cycle to matches where they can.
- Clubs should strictly limit the time spent congregating at a venue before a match begins. Where possible, players should arrive changed and ready to warm up, limiting time spent waiting around or in changing rooms.
- All sports must adhere to social distancing throughout warm-ups and breaks in play, and avoid equipment sharing where possible. Players should also avoid unnecessary close contact such as handshakes or huddles.
- Sports where a single ball needs to be touched by multiple players, such as basketball, cricket and football, need to include in their action plans how they will reduce the risk of this transmitting the virus – for example by cleaning when it goes out of play.
- Club toilets will need to be opened for pre-match, during the match and for 30 minutes afterwards, but they must be cleaned regularly in line with public health guidance.
- Clubhouses and bars can be opened in line with government guidance on hospitality, with groups limited to six people.