With lockdown restrictions being lifted in England, many amateur sport activities can resume after being halted since 5 November.
A national three-tier system is back in place and there are new rules for those involved involved in recreational sport across the country.
A study led by Manchester Metropolitan University has shown physical activity levels have dropped by up to 35% during the pandemic so the government is again encouraging people to exercise as “staying active is a vital weapon against Covid-19”.
Here are five key points about the new coronavirus guidance for grassroots sport in England.
What rules must I follow?
Participants should adhere to social distancing when not actively participating, such as breaks in play or when awaiting substitutions.
Water bottles should not be shared and social interaction before and after playing any sport should only take place in line with legal gathering limits.
In tier three, sports like rugby which involve prolonged face proximity may have to be modified to limit contact activity, in both training and matches.
In other team sports, training sessions in tier three must have minimal contact.
Who can travel?
Adults cannot travel in and out of tier-three areas, which will affect leagues that straddle tier boundaries.
But there are exemptions for under-18s, disability teams, volunteers, elite players and for those travelling for work within sport.
What about playing indoors?
Indoor sport can resume in tiers one and two. In tier one, organised indoor sport can take place if the rule of six is followed. For contact combat sports, contact between participants is limited to pad work only.
In tier two, organised indoor sport will only be permitted if it is possible for people to avoid mixing with those not from their household or support bubble. Contact combat sports are not permitted in tiers two or three.
In all three tiers there are exceptions for indoor disability sport, sport for educational purposes and supervised sport and physical activity for under-18s, which can take place with larger groups mixing.
What about spectators?
In tier one areas, spectators can gather outdoors and indoors in groups of up to six but in tier two, people cannot mix indoors with those not from their household or bubble.
No indoor sport is permitted in tier three but spectators can meet in groups of up to six on outdoor sport grounds.
What about fans’ facilities?
Clubs at steps three to six of football’s National League system and tiers three to six of the women’s football pyramid can accommodate a phased and limited return of spectators in tier one and two areas if they follow the latest government and FA guidance.
Clubhouses can operate in tier one by table service only and observing the rule of six. In tier two, clubhouses must close unless they operate as if they were a restaurant, serving substantial meals, and they may only serve alcohol with such a meal. Tables can only be same household and takeaways must be consumed off the club premises.