Getting hot under the Coronavirus collar in the UK
As the temperature rises in the UK – this week is billed to be the hottest of the year so far – many involved in fitness and sports are getting hot under the collar at what they see as omissions and inconsistencies in the government’s relaxing of lockdown restrictions.
We’re talking England here, since the devolved governments of Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland are taking slightly different – and slower – paths out of lockdown.
After the reopening of ‘non-essential’ shops a couple of weeks ago, the next phase of the Boris Johnson-led UK government’s relaxation, due to take effect on 4th July, promises many more freedoms with Pubs, Cinemas, Restaurants, Museums, Hotels, Hairdressers and many other facilities reopening as long as they adhere to Covid-safe policies (some of which are still being fleshed out), and a reduction in the social distancing rule from 2-metres to “one-metre-plus”.
Great news for whole sections of the economy and millions lockdown-weary citizens, but for many the announcement was was soured by the news that many fitness and sports facilities would remain shut – especially galling when we hear reports about how squash is slowly opening up and in some cases returning to almost normal in various countries around the world.
Despite golf courses already being open for several weeks, Premiership football entering its second week of behind-closed-doors return, and sports such as Snooker and Tennis beginning their controlled returns, players fans and officials of Swimming, Badminton, Squash, indoor Fitness Gyms and more were feeling left out of the ‘independence day’ relaxations, and somewhat bemused about the priority of the activities which were being allowed.
Amongst many reactions, Nick Matthew expressed surprise that Brits were allowed to shop and dine but not to go to the gym or play squash, and England Squash joined in with Sport and Recreation Alliance campaign to put the case to the government.
And lo and behold, the campaign elicited a little ray of hope as government officials expressed their desire to get at least some of these facilities and activities opening up from mid-July.
Mid-July still seems a long way off, with discussion raging over whether the government is opening up too soon – the UK is still recording new daily cases in hundreds and daily deaths still in three figures – but at least there’s a glimmer of light at the end of what feels like a very long tunnel.
We know that when squash does return to the UK it will be very different – as will the clubs and facilities in which it’s played as they open up perhaps partially – but forgive us if we at least try to look on the bright side !
We’ll keep updating our “looking beyond lockdown” post with developments across the world, but we thought the UK situation deserved a closer look – stay tuned …