Outdoor sports courts could be re-opened next as part of changes to lockdown restrictions in Wales being discussed this week.
The Welsh Government’s next review of lockdown measures is due to take place on Thursday, before any changes being announced by First Minister Mark Drakeford on Friday.
On Monday, the Welsh Labour leader indicated the package of changes to be announced this Friday would include “replacing further restriction on outdoor activity”.
He would not be drawn on exactly what this would entail, but the Welsh Government’s traffic light roadmap – which sets out how Wales could exit the lockdown – offers some guidance to what people in Wales can expect. The roadmap applies to aspects of Welsh life including seeing family and friends, getting around, playing sports and using public services.
The Welsh Government’s plan is to move from lockdown to red, then to amber and to green slowly – and to monitor hospital admissions and infections data throughout. If hospital admissions increase, then any changes could be reversed.
At the last review of the measures in May, Wales moved from lockdown to the red zone of the traffic light system with regard to exercise, playing sport and games.
The rules for exercising and playing sport in the red zone include:
Exercise more than once a day and incidental activity locally.
Elite athletes resume some activity.
Outdoor sports courts to open.
Since May 11, people in Wales have been able to exercise multiple times a day and restrictions on some elite athletes have also been relaxed, with Cardiff City and Swansea City both allowed by the Welsh Government to begin training. They played two friendlies against each other behind closed doors at the weekend ahead of their return to Championship action this weekend.
However, outdoor sports courts did not re-open after the last lockdown review.
This left many tennis players unhappy that Wales, alongside Andorra, were the only places in western Europe still to have all tennis activities suspended due to the coronavirus pandemic.
The Welsh Government said the reason for not re-opening was because they could only lift a certain amount of restrictions in each period of lockdown and wanted to prioritise people seeing family members; people from two different households are currently permitted to meet up outdoors provided they keep a social distance and try to stay local to their home.
So, what lockdown measures could be lifted this time?
The Welsh Government has explicitly said the re-opening of outdoor courts will be part of the measures considered this week.
Any move into the amber zone of the traffic light system would mean the the next set of measures to be considered for sport and exercise are:
Team and individual sports, non-contact sport and games in small groups indoors and outdoors.
Some outdoor events with limited capacity and events behind closed doors for broadcast.
Based on the recent comments from the First Minister, it seems unlikely that indoor activity will be permitted in the next round as we are not yet allowed to see family from other households indoors.
But tennis is a non-contact sport which appears to be an ideal consideration, with the re-opening of outdoor courts already known to be a consideration this week.
On the matter of events behind closed doors for broadcast, that ties in with Championship football resuming in Wales this weekend, without fans attending, of course.