Exercise during lockdown: What are the new rules for outdoor sports and exercising with friends?
On Monday March 29, adults can once again play football, tennis, cricket, basketball, golf, and all other manner of outdoor sports as pitches and outdoor swimming pools across the country are reopened, along with outdoor gyms and outdoor exercise classes. The wider “rule of six” social contact limits apply to outdoor sports.
If the sport has been formally organised – for example by a qualified instructor, club, national governing body, company or charity – it is not subject to the gatherings limits. But the Government guidance says it “should be compliant with guidance issued by national governing bodies”.
Boris Johnson announced his “roadmap” out of England’s lockdown on Monday Feb 22, which had been in place since Jan 5 and allowed people more freedom over where they exercise, and who with.
Throughout the third national lockdown, people were allowed to exercise outdoors with one other person outside of their household, although this was limited to once a day and remained locally.
The gradual lifting of more restrictions is set to continue over the coming weeks, with gyms reopening on Apr 12.
Here’s what the new exercise rules mean in practice…
What are the new rules?
Gone is the restriction that says someone could only meet one other person outside, replaced by a much wider rule for how many people can gather outdoors.
There are two definitions for what new groups are allowed.
One is the ‘rule of six’, meaning six people from many different households can now meet up outside.
The other grouping allowed is two different households.
However, crucially, these meetings are only allowed outside – indoor mixing of households is still barred. Outdoor settings both public and private – such as a garden – are allowed.
Adults can play football, tennis, cricket, basketball, golf, and all other outdoor sports. Outdoor swimming pools, driving and shooting ranges, riding arenas at riding centres, archery venues, climbing walls and outdoor gyms are also allowed to open.
What are the rules set out in Boris Johnson’s roadmap?
The rules on exercise – both indoor and outdoor – are being lifted through a careful strategy, with the hope of life being mostly back to normal by July. Here is how it will happen…
As part of lockdown easing, outdoor organised sports for both children and adults will return. This is the case for both socially distanced sports like tennis and golf, and team sports like football. This means you will be allowed to see your friends for kick about in the park – as long as it doesn’t break the number limits, so no more than six people.
However, indoor sports will still be off limits and leisure centres will remain closed.
Step 2: April 12
Gyms will reopen, but certain restrictions will still be in place.
Step 3: May 17
Hopefully, gym classes and indoor sports will be allowed by this point. Groups of up to six people and two households will also be allowed to meet indoors, so people will be able to enter each other’s homes. This means you can work out with other people indoors – as long as you are keeping to the requirements above.
Step 4: June 21
If all goes to plan, life will look as close to normal as possible by this point. However, the restrictions are subject to reviews, and the success of the vaccination program.
Can I drive to exercise?
From Mar 29, there is no limit on how far you can travel to meet people. Whereas before exercise had to be undertaken locally, you can now drive a little further afield.
Can I meet up with friends or family for exercise?
From March 29, people are allowed to meet up with six people from six different households outdoors. In theory, this means you could meet for an outdoor yoga class with some friends, as long as you are adhering to social distancing rules – and travel safely to get there.
Outdoor facilities, such as outdoor swimming pools and tennis and basketball courts, are open from Mar 29.
Gyms reopen in England on Apr 12, but people from different households must not deliberately mix there. This means you shouldn’t go to the gym to see a member of another household, because the risk of transmission indoors will still be high.
From May 17, you can meet up indoors for exercise with people outside of your household. Hopefully, exercise classes will return, too.
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