Sports fans across the UK will be breathing a sigh of relief as the UK Government and Scottish Government have now unveiled a routemap to easing the lockdown measures that have been in place for nine weeks now.
Documents published today by the Scottish Government indicate that, subject to final decision and change, outdoor non-contact sports such as golf, tennis and bowls may be able to resume around the end of May. While the primary focus of everyone involved must be the health and wellbeing of the public, governments across the UK are now beginning to acknowledge the adverse mental and physical effects being experienced by many as a result of the restrictions.
Just a few weeks ago, we at Sportside advocated that individual non-contact sports should be resumed in a manner that is safe and protects those taking part. Thankfully, it would now appear that the end is in sight for many keen golfers, tennis players, anglers and bowlers.
Today’s documents also outline the steps that the Scottish Government, mirroring in part the decisions taken by their UK counterparts, will take to ease the restrictions further if there are signs of improvement and a decrease in the number of Coronavirus cases. Included in phase two, alongside the return of individual non-contact sports, is the news that people can exercise outdoors more than once per day – again a measure bringing Scotland into line with the rest of the UK.
Phase three eases the lockdown restrictions further by opening sports courts and playgrounds alongside the introduction of professional sports that can be played safely. Phase four includes the reopening of gyms and exercise facilities, again subject to social distancing measures and caution being exercised at all times.
The past few months have been difficult for everyone, but the sacrifices we have all made have been vital. By staying at home, complying with government guidelines on social distancing and taking precautions when exercising in outdoor spaces, each and every one of us have saved lives. This stage of the process will be no different – by remaining responsible, we will allow the health authorities to tighten their grip on the virus and in time, things may begin to return to a new normal.
The scenes of German football returning last weekend will have been a source of relief and reassurance for millions of fans. Today’s news that we are now planning to exit the lockdown and resume sporting events will be further comfort to the anxiety being felt by many.
After all, sport and physical activity is proven to be beneficial not only to physical health, but to mental health as well. Yes, it may be a while before we are able to fully participate in many of the team sports that we hold dear, but that time will come. At Sportside, we exist to increase and encourage participation in sport. These steps are the first on a long road to recovery, and we look forward to walking that road with you.