A beam of light: Indoor sport gets a return date

INDOOR sport is nearing the end of its year-long stint on the sidelines, with venues across Jersey due to reopen their doors in nine days’ time.

Indoor sport is set to resume on Monday 15 March, with restrictions on outdoor events due to be relaxed in April Picture: DAVID FERGUSON
Indoor sport is set to resume on Monday 15 March, with restrictions on outdoor events due to be relaxed in April Picture: DAVID FERGUSON

And there is further good news for those involved in outdoor sports, as Government of Jersey officials have pencilled in the relaxation of current measures for mid-April.

The Island’s latest community-reconnection framework, unveiled by Assistant Chief Minister Lyndon Farnham yesterday afternoon, permits the resumption of non-contact indoor activities for groups of up to ten people, including swimming and gym classes, from Monday 15 March, while close-contact activities – both indoor and out – are due to return on Monday 12 April.

Gatherings of up to 75 people will also be permitted at outdoor sporting events from 12 April, following the addition of up to 40 spectators to the existing 35-person limit, which will remain in place for another five weeks.

It is understood that organised classes within gyms will be bound by a ten-person limit but open areas assigned for more general physical activities will not.

The reopening of changing rooms from 15 March comes as moderate relief to the likes of Jersey’s senior sportsmen and women, who are set to return to competitive action from Monday, but Jersey FA chief executive David Kennedy says he does not understand why the 35-person cap on attendees must remain in place for another 37 days.

‘I thought that the limit would have at least moved up to 40,’ he said. ‘Kids are having to be excluded from youth football at the moment because of these government restrictions

‘If you have a Covid officer and three officials at a game, that takes it down to 31, which means each team can only bring along 15 people – one of whom is the coach. On average, youth squads have about 18 players so every single week kids are being excluded and our dedicated volunteers face the near-impossible task of having to turn around to kids and say “you’re unable to play”. And some leagues aren’t on every week so some kids are going a few weeks without a game.

‘They seem to be picking the numbers out of the air. If someone had actually spoken to us many weeks ago, we could have explained the situation. We need a minimum of 40 to ensure that all young people can participate.’

Kennedy also expressed concerns over the management of group sizes at public venues.

‘We’re now not providing three officials for games to allow teams to have more players. But that means the club coach has to organise the team, run the line and, if you look at Les Quennevais, that same coach at the same time has to ask people whether they’re there to watch the game or whether they’re just out walking their dog or riding their bike.

‘There is massive uncertainty and it all goes back to this ridiculous number of 35.

‘The government just don’t understand.’

On Monday 13 May, physical distancing orders will be replaced by guidance and ‘larger events’ are on course to return on Monday 16 June, if accompanied by risk assessments.

The roadmap did not specify what constitutes a ‘larger event’, nor did it state when the limit on group sizes for outdoor sport might be lifted, but Senator Farnham said the latest plans will be subject to ‘constant review.’

‘I am more than optimistic that these dates will hold,’ he said. ‘But we need to stick to the rules through the final stages of the pandemic. We will review and bring things forward if the situation stays as good as it is now, but the opposite is also true if the situation deteriorates.’

nCovid-19 recovery roadmap dates: See Page 1

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