Elite sport in England set to continue during second national lockdown

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Elite sport will continue in England despite the government announcing a second national lockdown.

Prime Minister Boris Johnson announced the month-long lockdown would start on Thursday and Oliver Dowden confirmed top-level sport would not be affected.

The Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport tweeted that people should work from home where possible.

However, he added: “Where this is not possible, travel to a place of work will be permitted – e.g. this includes (but not exhaustive) elite sport played behind closed doors, film & tv production, telecoms workers.”

Johnson ordered the country to stay at home in a bid to reverse the spread of Covid-19.

The Prime Minister said that without action, deaths would reach “several thousand a day”, with a “peak of mortality” worse than the country saw during the lockdown in April.

Pubs, bars, restaurants and non-essential retail across the nation will close from Thursday.

Dowden added: “We understand people will have a lot of questions and @DCMS officials & ministers will be working through these and detailed implications with sectors over the coming days.”

Liverpool v Midtjylland – UEFA Champions League – Group D – Anfield
Jurgen Klopp welcomed the news (Phil Noble/PA)

Speaking after his side’s 2-1 victory over West Ham, he said: “It is obviously what we wanted (football to continue) and I think we proved we can keep the bubble safe.

“Everyone had cases, that is the time we are in, but we could isolate these cases pretty quickly to prevent spread.

“I think it never happened at a training ground but it has happened when travelling, with international teams, normal life. I think we proved we can do it.

“And in a lockdown it is really important for the people that they can do things they like to do, and watching football is obviously something they like to do. I am happy we can continue.”

EFL fixtures will continue under the new measures
EFL fixtures will continue under the new measures (Richard Sellers/PA)

An EFL statement read: “During this next phase it has been confirmed to the League by the Department for Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS) that elite sport will be able to continue and EFL competitions will therefore remain as currently scheduled (in both England and Wales).

“Professional football has implemented some of the most stringent, robust and regularly reviewed protocols since the restart in June 2020 and our medical experts’ advice remains in place to fully adhere to these measures which are specifically designed to mitigate against the spread of the virus.

“The health, safety and well-being of players and club staff throughout the pandemic has been our first priority and this will continue as we enter this next period of lockdown and beyond.

“In addition, we acknowledge the government’s national efforts in tackling this outbreak and would hope that during this next phase of the crisis, our national sport, negatively affected by Covid-19 like many other industries, can continue to provide some form of welcome distraction and give people in our communities up and down the country a sense of normality in very challenging times.”

Nine of the ties due to be played over November 6-9 involve clubs from non-elite leagues, such as Skelmersdale United, Banbury United and Cray Valley Paper Mills.

The FA said on Saturday night: “We acknowledge the government’s announcement today regarding Covid-19 restrictions and are awaiting further information before we can confirm how this may affect non-elite football across England.”

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