From 1st August, wedding receptions for up to 30 people can resume, and local beauty salons, Blackpool’s casinos, plus bowling alleys and skating rinks can reopen providing they have measures in place to reduce Covid-19 transmission. These were key announcements from Boris Johnson in his Press Conference today.
And as we approach the new football season (although the old one is not yet complete!), there will be pilot schemes to reopen sports stadia, including the annual World Snooker Championship in Sheffield from July 31 and the Glorious Goodwood horse racing festival from August 1. If these trails are successful, stadiums could reopen to audiences and spectators for music and sports events, and also conferences and business events.
However, at the moment night clubs and soft play areas remain closed. And from tomorrow ‘lightning lockdown’ powers for councils will be introduced to allow them to shut public spaces and premises without consulting the Government to stop outbreaks.
Boris Johnson said, ‘It is my strong and sincere hope that we will be able to review the outstanding restrictions and allow a more significant return to normality from November, at the earliest, possibly in time for Christmas.’
Supporting the opening up of stadia, a statement from the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS) said the test events were taking place in order ‘to build up to and prepare for the full, socially distanced return of sporting events from October 1, 2020.’
Sports Minister Nigel Huddleston said: ‘For months, millions of us have felt the void of being unable to go to the match to support our team or attend a top-class sporting event. So I am pleased that we are now able to move forward with a plan to help venues safely reopen their doors to fans. I recognise that not every sport, team or club has the benefit of huge commercial revenue, and it is often their dedicated fans that are the lifeblood which helps keep them going. By working closely with sports and medical experts, these pilots will help ensure the safe return of fans to stadia. Although it will remain some time before venues are full to capacity, this is a major step in the right direction for the resumption of live spectator sport across the country.’
However, some do not share this optimism. Five-time world champion Ronnie O’Sullivan said he was uncomfortable with the prospect of playing in front of crowds at the moment and he may even consider pulling out of the World Snooker Championship at the Crucible, saying ‘If they start bringing in crowds in, even if it is only a couple of hundred, I wouldn’t feel good about that. And I think to the point where it would even affect my willingness to participate. I don’t think there should be any crowds in an indoor area until at least 2021 and, to me, it seems insane that we are even talking about it.’