COVID-19: No Professional Sport in England Until 1 June

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Top-level sport in England could restart behind closed doors from June 1 but spectators may not be able to attend venues until a coronavirus vaccine is found.

The government has published a 50-page guidance document detailing how England will begin to ease lockdown measures.

Step two of the road map, which cannot begin any earlier than June 1, includes “permitting cultural and sporting events to take place behind closed-doors for broadcast, while avoiding the risk of large-scale social contact”.

Speaking in the House of Commons on Monday, Prime Minister Boris Johnson said being able to hold sporting events behind closed doors could “provide a much-needed boost to national morale”.

It is less clear when supporters will be able to return to venues. The document talks about venues such as cinemas and hairdressers reopening in step three – no earlier than July 4 – but states: “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.

“Nevertheless the Government will wish to open as many businesses and public places as the data and information at the time allows.

“In order to facilitate the fastest possible reopening of these types of higher-risk businesses and public places, the Government will carefully phase and pilot reopening to test their ability to adopt the new COVID-19 Secure guidelines.

“The Government will also monitor carefully the effects of reopening other similar establishments elsewhere in the world, as this happens.

“The Government will establish a series of task forces to work closely with stakeholders in these sectors to develop ways in which they can make these businesses and public places COVID-19 Secure.”

The top flight has been suspended since 13 March because of the coronavirus pandemic but is aiming to resume in June, with 92 of its 380 fixtures left to play.

Premier League clubs held a four-hour meeting on Monday to discuss the government’s latest lock-down guidance, with further meetings between players and managers set to follow this week.

“The focus was on a return to training in small groups, but the clubs know they need further government approval to do that,” chief news reporter Bryan Swanson told Sky Sports News. “They’ll hold talks involving the rest of English football on Thursday.

“This really is a hugely significant week for the Premier League, football and sport to return to this country this summer. They will have been mindful of the comments at the start of Boris Johnson’s report where he said that the mass vaccine or treatment may be more than a year away, and ultimately they know they need to make this as safe as possible, particularly around training on the issue of testing.

“Clubs will have discussed the medical protocols which need putting in place so that players can receive assurances that it will be safe for them to resume. That meeting is now over, we’re awaiting further details.”

It is unclear when spectators may be able to attend sporting events again.

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