Sports in England get June green light to resume

The UK government has given permission for the Premier League and other professional sports to return behind closed doors from 1 June, providing its five tests on controlling the coronavirus are met.

The news was contained in a 60-page document, Our Plan to Rebuild, which sets out in broad terms the governments strategy for recovery from the pandemic.

Sports would be able to resume as part of the second stage of the plan. This would permit “cultural and sporting events to take place behind closed doors for broadcast, while avoiding the risk of large-scale social contact”.

The document advises that “organisations should prepare accordingly” for any reopening but states any progress would be dependent on the governments five tests, which include a “sustained and consistent fall” in the daily death rate as well as the rate of infection decreasing to “manageable levels”.

The governments plans rule out any elite sporting activity before June, ending horse racings hopes of an early return. The plans may also apply only to England, with devolved governments having the ability to adjust restrictions at different rates.

The prospect of fans returning to live events remains distant. Stage three of the governments plan, which could be implemented from July, suggests the possible reopening of indoor spaces such as cinemas and hairdressers.

It goes on to add that: “Some venues which are, by design, crowded and where it may prove difficult to enact distancing may still not be able to reopen safely at this point, or may be able to open safely only in part.” The opening of such venues, according to the document, “may only be fully possible significantly later”.

Further guidance on the return of elite sports is expected soon from a working group led by the UK Sport chief executive, Sally Munday. On Monday afternoon the Premier League was meeting to discuss its protocols that would enable a return to happen safely.