TENS of thousands of people have demanded that kids’ football is allowed during the second lockdown – as ministers are being urged to scrap the ban on golf and tennis too.
MPs piled onto the PM demanding kids be allowed to continue playing football during the month long shut-down and a Change.org petition has gathered the support of 72,000 people.
⚠️ Read our coronavirus live blog for the latest news & updates
Labour MP Kevan Jones said in the Commons today: “Participation in sport is vital for our nation’s physical and mental health
“The Prime Minister on Saturday night triumphantly announced that Premier League would continue but the announcement today means local and amateur football would not be allowed to continue.”
“Golf clubs and gyms are going to be closed despite their valiant efforts to ensure they are Covid safe.”
Mr Jones demanded the PM release evidence proving it was necessary to prevent people enjoying a game of football or tennis match.
And MP Damian Collins has written to Oliver Dowden to demand “outdoor youth sports, including team sports like football” be allowed to continue.
He argued: “Young people will be currently allowed to continue with sport at school, and we believe that the risks to the spread of the coronavirus from outdoor grassroots youth sport would be minimal”.
Culture and Committee Chair Julian Knight has urged the “blanket ban” on outdoor sports to be lifted while Labour are also calling for “wellbeing” activities to be allowed.
They argue that sports like tennis, golf and outdoor swimming should be exempt.
Mr Knight tweeted: “I was in touch with the Minister for Sport to request that the blanket ban on sports like tennis & golf be lifted. Government ought to allow the mixing of one other household in these socially distanced sports.”
On Radio 4’s Today programme he added: “There are health benefits, both physical and mental, and we are trying to get fitter as a country.
“The Prime Minister has made reference to that in his speech the other night, and these sports are uniquely built for social distancing.
“They opened safely in the spring in a limited way, with no club houses, changing rooms or catering.
“You get two players in tennis and in golf and we need to acknowledge the enormous efforts and expenses in order to make them covid-secure.”
Scotland and Northern Ireland’s golf courses were allowed to remain open during the country’s circuit-break, but in Wales they had to shut.
It’s not clear yet how grassroots sport will be affected, but it’s likely to be cancelled too.
He added: “For the mental and physical health of the nation we need to be smart about this, and we need to allow people some activity that they can enjoy and do so in a safe environment.
“A blanket ban is not the correct way to go about things.”
Alison McGovern, Labour’s Shadow Sports Minister, added: “We want the government to put wellbeing at the heart of their plans for handling the coronavirus.
“We know how incredible sport is for both mental and physical health – both of which are at risk as we face further restrictions. It cannot be an afterthought in this time of crisis.”
Labour wants ministers to set out how facilities that support socially distant activity can be reopened safely as soon as possible.
Jeremy Tomlinson, CEO of England Golf said he will be challenging the government’s position.
In a letter to members, he said: “Alongside our colleagues in the All-Party Parliamentary Group for Golf (APPGG) we will pro-actively continue dialogue with government challenging the current position hard, but with great reason, to allow golf courses to remain open for play (in some format) from Thursday.
“I truly believe this would not, in any way, undermine the huge public health efforts that are going on in the country during these times.
“Golf, in fact, can help us get through this terrible pandemic and be stronger for it once we emerged on the other side.”
Tennis boss, Scott Lloyd, chief of the LTA added: “The LTA are making the strongest case to the Government that outdoor tennis courts should be allowed to remain open for singles play, 1-2-1 coaching as well as use by the same households.
“We know tennis activity for children is also hugely important and so we have argued for this to continue where possible.”