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Culture secretary Oliver Dowden says indoor gyms, indoor swimming pools and sports facilities can reopen later this month

Indoor gyms, swimming pools and sports facilities can reopen later this month.

Culture secretary Oliver Dowden, addressing the country during a Downing Street press conference, said gyms, sports halls and indoor pools can open again from July 25 with safety measures in place.

KMTV reports on the announcement

Mr Dowden said: “The reopening of gyms is the news millions across the country have been waiting for with many people desperate to jump on a spinning bike or dive into a pool.

“Our comprehensive guidance will ensure gyms, pools and leisure centres have the support they need to reopen safely for their customers and staff.

He added: “We need to get the nation match fit to fight this disease.”

Recreational cricket can resume from this Saturday although the Kent Cricket League have said their 2020 season has been cancelled.

Outdoor pools can also reopen this weekend but Swim England chief exec Jane Nickerson has urged patience to be shown as both indoor and outdoor venues get prepared.

She said: “We know that pools need time to get their facilities up and running again after being closed for so long.

“Many outdoor pools will not be ready to open from this weekend and some indoor pools may not be ready to open on 25 July, so we’d ask swimmers to remain patient a little while longer.”

The reopening later this month of sports halls will means games such as badminton and volleyball can return. Venues will have to use a timed booking system while class sizes will have to enable social distancing measures are adhered to.

People are to be encouraged to shower and change at home.

Supporters can also attend community fixtures. The government have said: "Supporters will also be allowed to attend community fixtures in small numbers provided they are in groups of two households only, or no larger than six people from different households, and adhere to social distancing measures."

Mr Dowden said there was no requirement for face masks to be worn in gyms. He said: "We have not taken the decision to require the wearing of face masks in respect of gyms."

Football matches outside of the professional game have not been permitted so far but this could change soon. The Kent FA said: "This is very welcome news for grassroots football. We are seeking further clarification and guidance for the next steps."

They KCFA added: "Until further clarification is issued regarding the safe return of grassroots football, we would like to remind all clubs and leagues to continue to follow the most recent guidance."

Earlier this week a league chairman hit out at players taking part in a "full-on" match complete with a referee.

Individual sports including football will have to submit to the government an action plan and related guidance, demonstrating its mitigations, how it plans to operate, and any adaptations required, before they can be approved to restart.

The action plans must recognise that the return of recreational sport may need to be paused in the event of a raised Covid-19 threat level either nationally or locally.

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