Can you still play football during the UK coronavirus lockdown?

Jack de Menezes
Closeup view of Premier League football: Getty Images

The British Government’s decision to lockdown the UK in response to the coronavirus outbreak has seen many left wondering what they can and can’t do as their one piece of exercise each day.

The first day of lockdown Britain saw police having to split apart games of football and cricket, while all golf courses have been shut in an effort to prevent the spread of Covid-19.

Many have turned to exercise to occupy their time after being told on Monday by Prime Minister Boris Johnson to remain at home apart from essential travel, with all of those able to work from home told to do so and avoid seeing friends, family and occupants of other households to stop coronavirus spreading from home to home.

Under the updated guidelines, people can exercise no more than once a day which includes running or walking with people in your own house, such as partners, children or housemates.

But many have asked whether they can perform basic tasks such as swimming, climbing and playing tennis, with individual governing bodies issuing instructions on what can and can’t be completed.

Can I play football?

All club football has been suspended by the Football Association until at least 30 April, meaning that all leagues, cups and friendlies have been suspended with immediate effect. It has been reported that steps five and six of the English pyramid have been abandoned following a statement from the Essex Senior League, but the tweet has since been deleted and the FA has said that it is yet to make a formal decision.

What about recreational football?

Simply put, no you can’t. Police have already reported having to break up informal football matches and kickabouts at public parks, and have stressed that the lockdown should not be treated as a holiday.

Boris Johnson has told members of the public to stay indoors apart from four reasons:

  • Essential shopping as infrequently as possible

  • Health reasons

  • Work that cannot be completed from home

  • Exercise once a day alone or with members of the same household

While parks and open areas remain available for use by the public, this should be limited in time and use for individual activity or with people you live with.

Police have been told to disperse groups that meet in public, and have also been given the power to fine individuals who refuse to leave or persist in offending.

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