Coronavirus restrictions – an update from LTA CEO Scott Lloyd
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Despite the strong case we and many of you have put forward to Government, we are sorry to confirm that the new restrictions being introduced from tomorrow mean you will not be allowed to play tennis in England for the duration of the national lockdown, as a result of the closure of all outdoor tennis courts as well as indoor facilities.
We believe that if people are being encouraged to take part in exercise during lockdown and are allowed to meet someone else from a different household for a socially distanced walk, they should have been able to play tennis against each other on either side of a net.
The physical and mental health benefits of tennis to participants are high, whilst the risk from the sport is incredibly low.
Despite these arguments the Government has decided that tennis courts should close.
'A time when it is more important than ever that the nation remains active'
We appreciate the Government’s decision to allow Britain’s elite players to continue to train and compete. However, it is disappointing that millions of other people in this country will be denied the benefits of our sport at a time when it is more important than ever that the nation remains active. This will have a particular impact on those for whom sport is especially important, including disabled people and children and young people.
There will also be a significant impact on the tennis coaches, officials and venues who contribute so much to the communities they serve. These are all people whose businesses and livelihoods depend on our sport, and who, like many others, have already been severely impacted by the pandemic.
'Tremendous support from the tennis community – and you can still help'
Over the past few days there has been tremendous support from the tennis community for the campaign to keep courts open. That has really helped to bring to life the value of the sport to the nation, and I’d like to thank everyone who contacted their MP to make the case for tennis to continue as a safe, socially distanced sport. Doing this can still help to ensure our sport is treated appropriately going forward, so if you are yet to do so then we would continue to urge you to write to your local MP.
Many of you have been in touch asking if we could set up a petition to demonstrate support for tennis. We haven’t ruled out doing this in the future, but whilst petitions can commit the Government to giving a response or holding a debate, these take time to both be approved and be effective. We have found direct lobbying of MPs to be a quicker, more direct approach, helping to build important support within Parliament.
Whilst we are disappointed with the outcome, we respect the decision the Government has taken and now ask all those involved in tennis in England to adhere to it.
Our focus now is on the resumption of grassroots tennis
Our focus now will switch to campaigning to ensure that as much grassroots tennis activity can resume as soon as possible. Whether it is played indoors or outdoors, tennis by its very nature will remain a safe, socially distant sport that contributes so much to individuals, communities and the country as a whole and help us fight the impact of the pandemic. Therefore we are particularly calling on the Government to look again at the restrictions on using indoor courts when this national lockdown is eased and we revert back to a local tiered system, so that players of all ages are able to return to court next month.
Even when activity is allowed to recommence, Community Indoor Tennis Centres and clubs with indoor facilities are facing a very difficult winter and at least a third face the prospect of closure without further support. So we will also continue to campaign for a comprehensive Sports Recovery Fund that can help grassroots clubs and venues who have been most impacted this year.
As has been the case throughout this challenging period, we remain committed to doing all we can to support tennis in Britain and look forward to the sport being able to resume its role in keeping the nation active as soon as possible.
Scott Lloyd, CEO