BRITS could be back playing five-a-side football and other team sports soon after a top scientist urged Boris Johnson to end the Covid games ban.
Professor Mark Woolhouse has insisted there is no need for the Government to be ultra-cautious because cases have dropped and the virus “very rarely transmits outdoors”.
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Hopes have been raised for outdoor team sportsCredit: Alamy
It comes as a four-step plan out of lockdown suggests team games including football, rugby and hockey will be allowed from the end of March.
And the PM is also set to raise hopes of fans being back into grounds in time for the delayed Euro 2020 tournament, now starting in June.
Edinburgh University’s Professor Woolhouse told the Observer: “This virus very rarely transmits outdoors. So, quite honestly, outdoor activities that don’t involve close physical contact could be adopted now.
“That is not an argument to say we can have crowds back at football matches. But sports involving small numbers of players or sports for children: they could start safely today.”
Professor Woolhouse, whose work feeds into the Sage committee’s subgroup Spi-M, added that the data is far better than he or others predicted two or three weeks ago.
Outdoor team sports have been banned throughout the three lockdowns.
They were stopped in November, but allowed again in some areas, depending on the tier, through December before being forbidden again in January for the current lockdown.
But Prof Woolhouse said: “If you ask what should the government be considering, then measures to allow us to have outdoor activities should be right at the top of the list.”
He added that ensuring safe transport to parks and grounds and the safety of changing rooms must be considered if rules were to be eased.
But other scientists urged caution in fear of causing another wave of coronavirus infections.
University College London’s epidemiologist Anne Johnson said: “Although all the indicators are in the right direction, it is still too soon to unlock – if we open up too quickly there is a danger we could set off another big wave of infections. ”
ROAD TO FREEDOM
Coronavirus cases plunged by 28 per cent in a week with 445 fatalities reported today.
It is smaller than the 621 deaths recorded last Saturday, and nearly half the figure of 828 reported on February 6.
Although another 10,406 cases were reported today – slightly up on the 9,765 from last week.
Mr Johnson will tomorrow confirm his plan to get the country out of lockdown.
Step One may be the trickiest as militant teachers are threatening to wreck plans for all schools to reopen on March 8.
It will be followed by an end to restrictions on close family interaction, with grandparents allowed to cuddle grandkids again.
Care home residents will be able to hold hands with visitors within a few weeks
Tory MP Graham Brady, who chairs the 1922 Committee of backbench MPs, said he was urging the PM to “believe in vaccines” and free up care homes.
It is feared, however, that the roadmap will have too many speed restrictions for thousands of pubs, cafes and restaurants.
Mr Johnson looks set to delay full reopening until May.
A leading scientist said the Government does not need to be ultra-cautious in easing lockdownCredit: Refer to Source – Alamy
The success of the jabs programme has given the PM confidence to unlock slightly faster than first expected.
And he is expected to focus on upping his vaccination programme over the coming days as he aims to jab every adult by the end of July.
He said last night : “Hitting 15 million vaccinations was a significant milestone – but there will be no let-up, and I want to see the rollout go further and faster in the coming weeks.”