Following an address to the nation on Sunday (10 May), Boris Johnson announced that some lockdown rules across England would be relaxed, including the cap on outdoor exercise.
While previously the public was only allowed to exercise once a day outside, now people can exercise as much as they like.
But can you play football and other sports outside? Here’s what you should know.
Can I play football outdoors?
As lockdown rules ease across England, you might be excited to get some more outdoor exercise.
Although you can now exercise outdoors as much as you like, there are some restrictions on playing games and sport.
The new rules stipulate that you can participate in games or sport with only one person from outside of your household.
This means that you should not be playing team sports such as football and rugby with multiple players from outwith your household.
If you wanted to play a team sport, the participants would need to be members from within your household.
The government clarified its rules on sport in a new document titled “Our Plan to Rebuild: The UK Government’s COVID-19 recovery strategy”, published on Monday 11 May.
It states that outdoor exercise rules are being relaxed because “the risk of infection outside is significantly lower than inside”.
However, the only sports listed as examples of what is permissible are “angling and tennis”.
It’s likely that these two sports were chosen as examples to be included in the document as tennis is a two player sport that has the players relatively far apart from each other, and angling (which means fishing) is an inherently solo activity but would allow for any other participants to be far away from you.
Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport, Oliver Dowden, tweeted: “In tentative steps & in the least risky outdoor environments, we can imminently allow some sports activity like golf, basketball, tennis, fishing - solo/in households.”
Golf courses are set to reopen across England from Wednesday 13 May.
What are the rules for outdoor exercise?
These are the updated guidelines for spending time outdoors:
- You cannot meet up with more than one person from outside your household
- You should maintain social distancing measures to remain two metres (six feet) away from people outside your household
- Maintain good hand hygiene (this includes not touching shared surfaces, not touching your face or mouth etc)
People in England will also be allowed to drive to outdoor open spaces “irrespective of distance” to exercise, as long as social distancing measures are respected.
If you’re planning to travel, you should respect the rules in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland as their lockdown guidelines are different, with more restrictions on travel.
Are outdoor gyms and playgrounds going to reopen?
While the new rules from the government aims to give more freedom to people to exercise outside, leisure venues which have been closed due to lockdown will not be reopening in the meantime.
“You will still not be able to use areas like playgrounds, outdoor gyms or ticketed outdoor leisure venues, where this is a higher risk of close contact and touching surfaces,” the document explains.
The publication does state that the reopening of outdoor spaces would come before indoor public spaces and leisure facilities as “the risk of transmission outdoors is significantly lower”.