Thank you to those who have contacted me recently with ongoing about COVID-19 restrictions in relation to sport and exercise.
I appreciate people need to be active for their physical and mental health. There are so many people who rely on swimming, their football team, their round of golf or their gym workout. I have consistently pressed for wellbeing to be at the heart of the Government’s lockdown strategy and when the last set of national restrictions were lifted in December, I called for a contingency plan for sport.
I know sports and leisure facilities have made huge changes to make themselves COVID-safe, and I had hoped these measures could help us keep sport open.
However, the current restrictions mean people cannot leave their home in England unless they have a “reasonable excuse” as set out in law. This does include exercising in a public outdoor place, although this should be limited to once a day and people should not travel outside their local area.
While elite sport and organised outdoor sport for disabled people may continue, both indoor and outdoor leisure and sports facilities such as leisure centres and gyms, swimming pools, sports courts, fitness and dance studios, and golf courses must otherwise be closed.
I know how difficult another lockdown will be for families across the country, and I appreciate the frustration many will feel about the impact of the latest restrictions on the activities they enjoy and their ability to play sport and exercise.
Unfortunately, the situation is now incredibly serious. The virus is spreading exponentially across the country, many people are in hospital, and too many are tragically losing their loved ones. I believe national restrictions are, sadly, necessary to protect people’s health and the health of our NHS.
But this lockdown must be used to establish a massive and immediate vaccination programme across the country. I therefore support efforts to roll out the vaccine as quickly and safely as possible. I am also pressing for a cross-Government, comprehensive plan for future wellbeing beyond coronavirus.
Thank you once again for contacting me about this issue. I hope it will not be too long before people can safely return to the activities they love.