Boris Johnson made last-minute changes to Christmas for millions of people across London and south-east England after scientists said that a new coronavirus variant is spreading more rapidly.
Areas in London and the South East are now under tier four restrictions – effectively returning to the lockdown rules of November.
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Non-essential shops, gyms, cinemas, hairdressers and bowling alleys have closed, and people are restricted to meeting one other person from another household in an outdoor public space.
But how are outdoor sports and recreation affected under the new tier four restrictions? Here’s what you need to know.
Can I play golf in Tier 4?
Golf courses and driving ranges will be allowed to remain open in tier four areas, with play limited to groups of two.
What are the restrictions for outdoor sports and recreation in Tier 4?
The government has confirmed that outdoor sports courts, outdoor gyms, golf courses, outdoor swimming pools, archery/driving/shooting ranges, riding centres and playgrounds can remain open for individual exercise, and for people to use with others within your household, support bubble, or with one person from another household
Organised outdoor sport for under 18s and disabled people will also be allowed.
However, adult sport can’t take place indoors under any circumstances, with indoor gyms and swimming pools having to close.
Huw Edwards, chief executive of non-profit organisation UK Active, said the new restrictions will cause “further uncertainty” for the future of gyms, pools and leisure centres and it is “essential” that restrictions are lifted when they are reviewed on 30 December because of the importance of the start of each year to the industry.
“Failure to be open during this period, given the long periods of closure in 2020 and lack of bespoke sectoral support, would be devastating,” he added.
There are no exceptions for disabled people taking part in sport or physical activity indoors.
Is elite sport affected?
No – as was the case during the second national lockdown between 5 November and 2 December, exemptions have been made for elite athletes to continue to train and compete.
Professional sports will be allowed to continue behind closed doors.
Under the existing rules, in tier one, a maximum of 4,000 fans are allowed at outdoor events and up to 2,000 supporters will be allowed in tier two areas but none in tier three and four.
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