No10 dismisses demands for golf and tennis to be EXEMPT from lockdown sports ban despite senior Tories insisting there is no need for outdoor activities to be out of bounds
- Boris Johnson has announced a blanket lockdown in England from Thursday
- Tories are demanding that golf courses and tennis clubs should be exempted
- Downing Street says courses and courts should shut to stop the spread of virus
Downing Street today dismissed calls for golf courses and tennis courts to be exempted from the second lockdown in England.
The Prime Minister’s official spokesman insisted there are no plans to leave the sports out of the draconian restrictions.
The hard line comes despite senior Tories joining the backlash against the measures covering organised activities outdoors – where coronavirus is considered far less likely to spread.
The PM’s spokesman said guidance sets out that individuals can exercise in a public space with one other person or with their own household.
‘It’s not the intention, however, for tennis courts or for golf courses to remain open,’ he said.
Pressed why the Government is shutting them, he said: ‘People are able to use public spaces or walk or run in the park.
‘The purpose of the tougher regulations, which I expect are going to be difficult for very many people, are to significantly reduce social contact.’
Stricter measures are set to come into force from Thursday in an effort to limit the spread of the virus, and will include indoor and outdoor sports facilities such as driving ranges being ordered to close.
Downing Street today dismissed calls for golf courses and tennis courts to be exempted from the second lockdown in England. West Essex Golf Course
Julian Knight, the Tory chair of the Digital, Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS) committee, criticised the blanket approach to sports
Julian Knight, the chair of the Digital, Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS) committee, criticised the approach.
‘A blanket ban is not the correct way of going about things,’ he told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme.
‘Perhaps there needs to be some reflection on the work that was done in the spring by these institutions.
‘I know one golf club for instance that spent £5,000 on sanitising, I know another one that tested staff at a cost of £400 a week.
‘Don’t forget many of these courses are related to hotels and there they have had a real problem haven’t they, because they have been unable to really open at any sort of capacity for most of the pandemic.’
Knight added: ‘There are health benefits, both physical and mental. These sports are uniquely built for social distancing. They opened safely in the spring in a limited way, no clubhouses, changing rooms.
‘We need to acknowledge the enormous expense and efforts from both these sports in order to make them Covid-secure.’
The Government’s guidance on the new lockdown measures state that indoor and outdoor leisure and sports facilities including gyms, swimming pools, golf courses and driving ranges, climbing walls and climbing centres and archery and shooting ranges will be ordered to close.
The restrictions are initially set to remain in place until December 2, but Cabinet minister Michael Gove admitted yesterday that they could be extended.
The chief executive of England Golf, Jeremy Tomlinson, said in a letter that his organisation had not been consulted over the new restrictions and that closing golf facilities would be ‘counter-productive’.
Tim Hollingsworth, the chief executive of grassroots sports funding body Sport England, also told the Today programme: ‘We do still need to make sure that people find ways to be active outside and benefit their physical and mental well-being.
‘That really is the most critical thing in relation to helping to tackle the pandemic.’
The Football Association is awaiting guidance over how the new measures affect the FA Cup first round ties involving clubs below National League level.
Boris Johnson (pictured in Downing Street today) has announced that the lockdown in England will be impose from Thursday
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