Team sports will resume and friends and families will be able to meet outdoors from Monday in a major easing of England’s coronavirus lockdown rules.
Outdoor sports facilities can reopen and groups of up to six, or two households, can socialise in parks and gardens once more, after the stay-at-home order ended.
Among the first to re-open its doors was the Morley Hayes Golf Club, near Derby, with players teeing off at 12.01am on Monday for a seven-hole floodlit charity tournament.
Prime Minister Boris Johnson stressed that “we must remain cautious, with cases rising across Europe and new variants threatening our vaccine rollout”, while warm weather was expected to accompany the relaxation.
“Despite today’s easements, everyone must continue to stick to the rules, remember hands, face, space, and come forward for a vaccine when called,” he added.
He is expected to urge the public to take personal responsibility by sticking to the restrictions as he holds a Downing Street press conference.
Football and cricket pitches, tennis and basketball courts, outdoor swimming pools, golf courses and sailing clubs are now free to reopen after months of being shuttered.
Organised team sports can also resume outdoors, meaning grassroots competitions can take place ahead of the Easter break without the need for social distancing.
Mr Johnson said he hopes the easing will “kick-start a Great British summer of sport” as sports stars teamed up with the Government to encourage a return to physical activity.
England’s World Cup-winning cricket captain Eoin Morgan said: “With summer – and the cricket season – just around the corner, there’s no better time for everyone, young and old, to get back to having fun by getting outdoors, being active and playing sport.”
British number one women’s tennis player Johanna Konta said: “I’m so happy people in England are now able to get back on court and enjoy the mental and physical health benefits of tennis.”
England rugby union prop Kyle Sinckler added: “I can’t wait to see you guys get out there, and all the kids getting back out there to enjoy themselves.”