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Understanding the new restrictions and our role moving forward

Our chief executive Tim Hollingsworth blogs on how we can help the sport and physical activity sector function under the government's new lockdown regulations.

12th May 2020

by Tim Hollingsworth
Chief executive, Sport England

The Prime Minister’s announcements on Sunday night will have significant implications for the sport and physical activity sector.

We know the restrictions that were originally put in place in late March to combat coronavirus (Covid-19) have had a profound impact on community sport.

With activity literally stopped overnight, many clubs and organisations have been dealing with the significant challenges that created and the financial implications of lockdown. Alongside that, it has undoubtedly led to a change in many people’s relationship with physical activity,

That’s why even a small change to the restrictions on our way of life, and an increase in the amount of physical activity we are all able to do, is to be welcomed.

I know keeping up with what can and can’t currently be done can be confusing, so we’ve updated our website to explain what the new regulations coming into force tomorrow mean for us in practical terms

These changes represent significant steps forward for many sports and activities and it will be great to see those like golf, tennis and watersports resume in at least some form.

While many of us will be desperate to get going again, however, it’s vital all organisations thoroughly understand the guidelines and create detailed and robust plans before they even think of restarting. 

It’s also important national governing bodies, sports clubs and community organisations communicate with their members so they clearly understand their rights and responsibilities and are reassured that a more widespread return to sport will be as safe as possible.

Failure to do this could see the public return too soon, which could see the infection rate rise and a harsher lockdown re-imposed, or people feeling too anxious to return to organised sport and the long-term problems this would cause. Both would represent retrograde steps from where we are now.

A groundsperson gets a golf course ready for action.

At Sport England, we’ll continue to work very closely with the government to ensure the needs of community sport are considered throughout this process and work hard to provide the latest information and correct interpretation of the restrictions.

Our website has a dedicated coronavirus section that lists all the resources we have available and includes a detailed Q&A that explains the new regulations in more detail. This will be updated with more information in the days and weeks to come.

We’ll also continue to offer as much economic support to organisations and clubs who have been financially hit by coronavirus as we can and know our £210 million funding package will have a huge impact in helping the sector come through this in as strong a position as possible.

This includes our Community Emergency Fund, which is now worth £35 million in terms of direct financial support, and has already helped support thousands of clubs and organisations.

As expected, this fund has been heavily oversubscribed and will be paused at 11.59pm on Thursday 14 May to enable our assessors to process the remaining applications as quickly as possible. Any group still hoping to access this fund should submit their application before then.

I’ve been incredibly proud of the work Sport England has done so far, although I know there will be plenty more for us to do in the days and weeks ahead until the challenge caused by coronavirus is finally defeated.  

It is up to us all to make the latest situation starting tomorrow work positively and for the good of the nation – safely and correctly increasing the opportunity for activity and the physical and mental wellbeing we know it provides.

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