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Government guidelines pave way for a behind closed doors return for elite sport

UK & international sports | Published:

Stage three of the process to bring sport back from coronavirus lockdown will start with racing at Newcastle on Monday.

Premier League football could be back this month

The Government has issued health and safety guidelines which will pave the way for elite sport to return behind closed doors in England from Monday.

The rules form stage three of the process of bringing sport back from the coronavirus lockdown. Stage two, which allowed for close-contact training for elite athletes, was published last Monday.

Horse racing is due to resume at Newcastle on Monday with the first major meeting, involving the 2000 Guineas Stakes at Newmarket, coming on June 6.

Sport will return at Newcastle Racecourse
Sport will return at Newcastle Racecourse (PA)

Premier League football is scheduled to restart on June 17 with the English Football League set to follow later in the month, subject to club votes and approval from police and other safety bodies.

The Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport guidance has been issued in consultation with England’s deputy chief medical officers, Public Health England and medical representatives across sports governing bodies.

As well as ensuring no spectators are present at events, conditions have been made for sports fixtures to go ahead.

Participants must travel alone and in private transport, while everyone entering a venue must be screened for Covid-19 and anyone suspected of having the virus must be placed in isolation.

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Oliver Dowden has welcomed the impending return of sport
Oliver Dowden has welcomed the impending return of sport (Andrew Parsons/10 Downing Street)

A one-way system of movement must be established around the venue, while social distancing must be maintained “where possible” – including celebrations and sitting on the bench.

Dressing room use is to be minimised although showers can be taken in line with guidelines, advice for personal protective equipment must be followed., while physio treatment should be limited to essentials.

Oliver Dowden, the Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport, said: “The wait is over. Live British sport will shortly be back on in safe and carefully controlled environments.

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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.

The Premier League hopes to resume in June
The Premier League hopes to resume in June (Adam Davy/PA)

“This is a significant moment for British sport. By working with clinicians every step of the way, we are creating the safest possible environments for everyone involved.”

Premier League chief executive Richard Masters said: “The Premier League welcomes the Government’s announcement today.

“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.

“This includes consulting with our clubs, players and managers – along with all our other stakeholders – as the health and welfare of our participants and supporters is our priority.

“If all goes well, we will be thrilled to resume the 2019-20 season in just over two weeks’ time.”

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