Published: 08:00, 11 May 2020
| Updated: 10:23, 13 May 2020
A number of sporting venues have reopened again today.
The government gave the green light for sports such as golf, tennis and fishing to resume from Wednesday with social distance restrictions in place.
New coronavirus lockdown measures were announced on Sunday in a first step towards easing restrictions.
Sports secretary Oliver Dowden said: “In recent weeks our daily exercise has been so important to our health and wellbeing
“Now in tentative steps forward and in the least risky outdoor environments, we can imminently allow some sports activity like golf, basketball, tennis, fishing – solo/in households.”
New guidelines state that: "Sports courts can re-open, but you should only partake in such activities alone, with members of your household, or with one other person from outside your household, while practising social distancing. You should take particular care if you need to use any indoor facilities next to these outdoor courts, such as toilets.
You should not use these facilities if you are showing coronavirus symptoms, or if you or any of your household are self-isolating."
The Lawn Tennis Association confirmed on Monday that “tennis activity in England will be able to take place outdoors with singles play only, other than where players are all from the same household, in which case they can play doubles.”
The LTA had previously said: “We know how important it is to keep people active, and the particular role tennis can have in the physical and mental wellbeing of those that play it.
“Our aim is therefore for tennis activity to return as soon as is possible in a way that is both safe and appropriate based on Government advice.
“We remain in regular, direct dialogue with the government to ensure the guidance we are providing to those involved in tennis is the right advice at that time.”
Kent LTA 2019 club-of-the-year, Frindsbury Lawn Tennis Club, are among those back open.
Head coach Jim Barton said: “We have strict isolation procedures in place, with online booking and with staggered court times and access.
“Nobody will be going onto or off the courts at the same time.”
Anyone wanting to play must book through the website and short-term memberships are being made available for newcomers.
Mr Barton also plans to run coaching sessions, one to one, as permitted under the new guidelines. Bookings can be done through the club’s website, where contact details are available. If playing singles with a person from a different household then you are to mark your own balls so that you don’t pick up your opponent’s.
Players should avoid changing ends, or changing ends at opposite sides of the net, maintain social distancing at all times, follow public health guidelines for hygiene and not to play if you are self-isolating.
Clubs are advised to take online/phone bookings and payments while a 10-minute ‘buffer period’ should be factored in to minimise the risk of meeting anyone else outside of the courts.
The Professional Golfers’ Association, along with other golfing bodies, issued a statement on Sunday saying that play can be resumed.
Their statement said: “All outdoor sport must be done alone or within a household group and that includes golf.
“We must ensure that the safety and wellbeing of everyone involved from golfers, to club staff and greenkeepers is maintained at all times.
“Golf clubs and golfers have observed the lockdown very well and must keep it up and act responsibly as play resumes.”
Bewl Water have announced that they will be opening for walking, cycling, fishing and members water sports.
Angling was one of the first sports mentioned by the government as being able to resume, after intense lobbying by the Angling Trust, the representative body for game, coarse and sea anglers in England and Wales.
River fishing is not permitted during the current close season, which runs to mid-June, but private lakes have opened their doors and sea angling is also allowed under the government’s new guidelines.
Orchard Place Farm Fishing in Paddock Wood boasts 12 lakes and is one of the places you can book to fish from this week. They were back open on Wednesday from 7am, with social distancing procedures in place.
Lakes owner Steve Morgan said: “It’s been very tough for us. It’s our busiest time of the year, especially the Easter period that has just been.
“It’s quiet for us through the winter and our major period is spring and summer and obviously we have already lost some of that. We’ll be busy now though.”
The angling trade is estimated to be worth a total of £4bn to the UK economy, according to the Trust.
Mike Morrison from Manor Fisheries in Headcorn says they have been inundated with calls about when they will be open.
Sandwich Coarse Fishery, which has five lakes, is also among those back open.
Fishery manager Kevin Killeen said “We are open and will be following Angling Trust guidelines with regards to social distancing. It’s booking only and we’re limiting numbers, using every other swim to keep people apart.
“We’ve been feeding the fish throughout this and we’ve used a tonne of pellets since the closure so there is a cost there for us and we couldn’t keep going like that. We need to open and that’s why we’ve made the decision.”
Outdoor sports that can operate safely, such as river and lake swimming, within those restrictions are free to resume. Outdoor basketball courts can also be used.
Not all sports were halted under previous restrictions. The Faversham Darts League have been thriving with a virtual league set up and they had a special guest for a challenge event on Monday. Find out more here.
More by this authorLuke Cawdell
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