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Covid-19: What do new tier four restrictions mean for elite and grassroots sport in England?


Prime Minister Boris Johnson has announced a new, tougher fourth tier of coronavirus restrictionsexternal-link for London and much of south-east England.

They started at 00:01 GMT on Sunday. This is what they mean for elite and grassroots sport.

Is elite sport affected?

No – as was the case during the second national lockdown between 5 November and 2 December, exemptions have been made for elite athletes to continue to train and compete.

And professional sports will be allowed to continue behind closed doors.

Under the existing rules: in tier one, a maximum of 4,000 fans are allowed at outdoor events and up to 2,000 supporters will be allowed in tier-two areas but none in tier three and four.

What about non-elite and grassroots football?

The Football Association saysexternal-link “non-elite football” is not permitted in tier four areas. That includes:

  • Steps three to six of the National League System (all leagues in the system below the National League North and South)
  • Tiers three to seven of the women’s football pyramid (all leagues in the pyramid below the Championship)
  • Regional National League System feeder leagues
  • Barclays FA WSL Academy League (unless under elite guidance)
  • Women’s FA Cup – classified as ‘non-elite’ up to and including the third round
  • Indoor and outdoor adult grassroots football

What about other grassroots sport?

Outdoor sports courts, outdoor gyms, golf courses, outdoor swimming pools, archery, driving and shooting ranges and riding centres will remain open for use individually, or with others from your household or support bubble, or with one person from another household.

How about youth sport?

Organised outdoor sport for under-18s can continue.

And disability sport?

Organised outdoor sport for disabled people will be allowed.

What about gyms and leisure centres?

Leisure centres and indoor gyms, indoor swimming pools, indoor tennis and basketball courts, indoor fitness and dance studios and indoor climbing walls must close.

Huw Edwards, chief executive of non-profit organisation UK Active, has said the new restrictions will cause “further uncertainty” for the future of gyms, pools and leisure centres and it is “essential” that restrictions are lifted when they are reviewed on 30 December because of the importance of the start of each year to the industry.

“Failure to be open during this period, given the long periods of closure in 2020 and lack of bespoke sectoral support, would be devastating,” he added.

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