Latest Government Guidance

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On 22 February, the Prime Minster outlined the government’s roadmap for the easing of COVID-19 restrictions in England.

Restrictions will be lifted through a series of four steps and progress through the roadmap will be dependent on an assessment of the data against four key tests including continued vaccine rollout, reductions in hospitalisations and deaths, level of infection rates and additional risks posed by new variants.

Step 1

From 8 March, all schools will reopen with school sport allowed as part of educational provision and wraparound care. From this date, outdoor recreation will also be able to take place alone, with your household or support bubble or with one person from another household.

From 29 March, outdoor sports facilities such as tennis and basketball courts, and outdoor swimming pools will be able to reopen for use in line with wider social contact limits. Organised outdoor sports for both adults and children will also be able to resume with any numbers, where this takes place under NGB guidance.

The rule of six for outdoor gatherings will return from this date and will include informal outdoor sport and recreation.

Step 2

Step 2 will begin no earlier than 12 April and will allow indoor facilities to reopen including gyms, leisure centres and community centre for use individually or with household groups. Indoor sporting activities for children will be able to take place. Outdoor hospitality will also be able to reopen at this step.

Step 3

Step 3 will start from 17 May at the earliest, at which point organised adult indoor group sports and exercise classes will be able to resume. This stage will also see the return of some spectators at sporting events.

Indoor events will be able to have 1,000 people or 50% of a venue’s capacity, whichever is lower. Outdoor events will be able to take place at a capacity of 50% or 4,000 people, whichever is lower. For large, outdoor venues, crowds will be permitted up to 10,000 people or 25% of capacity, whichever is lower.

Step 4

Step 4 will take place no earlier than 21 June and will remove all legal limits on social contact with events taking place at capacity restrictions above those in Step 3.

Currently, England is still in a national lockdown. The full guidance outlining what you can and can't do is available on the government's website.

During this period you must not leave your home unless you have a ‘reasonable excuse’ as set out in law. A reasonable excuse includes, but is not limited to:

  • Work – where it is unreasonable for you to do your job from home
  • Volunteering – to provide voluntary or charitable services, if you cannot reasonably do so from home
  • Exercise – which should be limited to once a day, further information is outlined below.

Outdoor Exercise

You can leave your home to exercise outdoors in a public place. This can be done alone, with members of your household or support bubble, or when on your own, with one person from another household. When exercising with someone you do not live with you must maintain 2 metres social distancing. Where this is not possible you should stay 1 metre apart with extra precautions, such as wearing a face covering. Outdoor exercise should be limited to once per day and you should not travel outside your local area to exercise, although you can travel a short distance within your area to do so if necessary, e.g. to access an open space. You can only leave your home to exercise and not for the purpose of recreation or leisure, such as a social meeting.

Organised outdoor sport must not take place. However, this can continue for disabled people.

Venues and facilities

Both indoor and outdoor leisure and sports facilities such as leisure centres and gyms, swimming pools, sports courts, fitness and dance studios, riding arenas at riding centres, climbing walls and golf courses must close. Indoor and outdoor facilities are able to open to allow elite sports persons to train and compete. A full list of businesses and venues required to close is outlined here.

Financial Support

On Wednesday 3 March, the Chancellor, Rishi Sunak MP announced his measures in the Budget. The following is a brief summary of the key announcements most relevant to our sector.

Sport Specific Funding

Sport Recovery Package

The government has announced a further £300 million aimed at supporting major spectator sports as a result of losses during the pandemic. Announcements about funding settlements will be made in due course.

This is a welcome announcement of additional funding and reflects calls made by the Alliance and our major sports members to address the financial impact of a slower than expected return of fans.

Major Events

The government will provide £1.2 million to mitigate the potential financial effects of COVID-19 on the UEFA European Women's Championship which is being hosted in England in 2022.

£2.8 million is also being made available to enable the UK & Ireland to bid for the 2030 FIFA Men’s World Cup, with the government also investing £25 million into grassroots football.

Covid 19 Support Measures

Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme

The Chancellor announced that the Coronavirus Job Retention (furlough) scheme would be extended until the end of September. Between now and the end of June this will stay in its current form, with the government paying 80% of the wages of employees unable to work. However, from July the government will be asking organisations to contribute to the scheme as follows:

  • July – Employers asked to pay 10%
  • August and September – Employers asked to contribute 20%

At present the scheme will end on 30 September 2021.

Self-Employment Income Support Scheme

The government’s Self-Employment Income Support Scheme (SEISS) will be extended from April to September. This will come in the form of two more grants (4th and 5th).

The fourth grant, which covers the period from February to April, will continue to pay 80% of three months average trading profits and is capped at £7,500.

The fifth grant will cover the period from May to September and will be based on turnover. Those whose profits have fallen by over 30% will receive support as per the fourth grant. Those whose profits have fallen by less than 30% will receive a grant of 30% of three-month trading profits, capped at £2,850.

The grant covers anyone who has filed a tax return for the 2019-20 tax year.

Business Rates

The government has also announced that the business rates holiday for eligible retail, hospitality and leisure businesses will continue in its current form until the end of June. This will be followed by 66% business rates relief for the period from 1 July 2021 to 31 March 2022, capped at £2 million per business for properties that were required to be closed on 5 January 2021, or £105,000 per business for other eligible properties.

Restart Grants

The Chancellor has announced that the government will be providing Restart Grants for hospitality, accommodation, personal care, leisure and gym businesses in England of up to £18,000 per premises to help with the cost of reopening.

Another £425 million is also being provided to local authorities in England to put towards discretionary business grant funding.

Community Ownership Fund

The government will create a new £150 million Community Ownership Fund. From the summer, community groups will be able to bid for up to £250,000 matched funding to help them to buy local assets to run as community-owned businesses. This fund applies primarily to hospitality business however, in exceptional cases up to £1 million of matched funding will be available to help establish a community-owned sports club or buy a sports ground at risk of loss from the community.

Recovery Loan Scheme

From 6 April 2021 the Recovery Loan Scheme will provide lenders with a guarantee of 80% on eligible loans between £25,000 and £10 million to give them confidence in continuing to provide finance to UK businesses. The scheme will be open to all businesses, including those who have already received support under the existing COVID-19 guaranteed loan schemes.

Other Announcements

Red diesel

At last year’s Budget the Chancellor announced plans to remove the right to use red diesel in the majority of situations from 2022. We responded to the subsequent consultation to state that red diesel should still be able to be used for grassroots sport and recreation purposes. The government has now confirmed that amateur sports clubs will continue to be able to use red diesel.

The government’s response to the consultation states: ‘In light of the arguments made by representatives from the sports sector that increased costs on their clubs would be passed down to members, the government accepts that removing the entitlement to use red diesel from amateur sports clubs, as well as all golf courses, could affect people’s ability to participate in sport and impact on health and well-being’.

Levelling-Up Fund

Rishi Sunak outlined a £4.8 billion Levelling Up Fund, which will support local areas across the UK to invest in infrastructure that improves everyday life. This funding will go towards projects that include regenerating town centres and high streets, upgrading local transport and investing in culture and heritage, ensuring that community assets continue to serve local people across the whole UK. It is possible that this money will be available to invest in sport and recreation and we will provide more information in due course.

Corporation Tax

The government has announced the introduction of a Corporation Tax ‘Super Deduction’, a 130% relief against capital investments into plant and machinery costs for the next two years. Sports organisations investing in plant and machinery will be able to benefit from this relief. 

In addition, government has announced a temporary extension to the period over which businesses may carry trading losses back for relief against profits of earlier years.

Further details of existing business support measures are available on our Financial Support page.

The government also has a COVID-19 support finder tool to help you identify business support measures you may be eligible for.

The information above relates to England only. For information about the other Home Countries please see the relevant devolved administrations guidance for Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland.

View all the latest guidance from DCMS for the public, providers of outdoor sport facilities, elite athletes, personal trainers and coaches on the phased return of sport and recreation.

Please be sure to follow DCMS, Sport England and the Sport and Recreation Alliance on twitter for the latest information. This section of our COVID-19 support will be regularly updated with the appropriate guidance.