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Revealed: Outdoor sport set to return in stage two but spectators wait to stage four of Northern Ireland roadmap out of lockdown

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All lower levels of football are set to return in step two of the roadmap out of lockdown while amateur golfers, including former Northern Ireland star Keith Gillespie, will also be able to return to the course.

All lower levels of football are set to return in step two of the roadmap out of lockdown while amateur golfers, including former Northern Ireland star Keith Gillespie, will also be able to return to the course.

All lower levels of football are set to return in step two of the roadmap out of lockdown while amateur golfers, including former Northern Ireland star Keith Gillespie, will also be able to return to the course.

All outdoor sports, from golf to football and everything in between, will return early in the process of lockdown easing, according to the Northern Ireland roadmap document leaked to the Belfast Telegraph.

No dates have been attached to the plan, which will instead be data-driven. It was finalised around lunch-time on Tuesday after the Executive had met.

MLAs are to be briefed on the plan later this afternoon.

It details five stages of lockdown easing for a range of sectors, which include home and community, worship and ceremonies, education and young people, culture and entertainment, hospitality, work, retail, travel and tourism and, of course, sport and leisure.

It is worth noting that even within each step, different sports may open at different times. For instance, within step two, it would be reasonable to expect tennis courts and golf courses to reopen before contact sports such as football and rugby return.

Here's what the plan means for sports players and spectators:

Step One: Lockdown

This is the current state of play, in which outdoor exercise is permitted only with members of the same household or with one other person. Training and competition is only permitted for elite athletes, such as Danske Bank Premiership football and Ulster Rugby.

Step Two: By the end of 'Cautious First Steps' phase

Outdoor sports facilities re-open for training and organised group activities while outdoor competitive sport can resume without spectators. This will include all sports from golf and tennis to lower tier football, rugby and Gaelic games.

Step Three: By the end of 'Gradual Easing' phase

Leisure centres and all indoor facilities will reopen, including for group activities and classes. Leisure activity venues will also reopen, such as soft play areas. This phase will include the reopening of swimming pools and gyms and will facilitate the playing of indoor sports such as badminton, judo or five-a-side football.

By the end of this phase, all sports will again be eligible to return for competitors.

Step Four: By the end of 'Further Easing' phase

It is in this stage that a limited number of spectators will be eligible to return to both outdoor and indoor events. This will include all sports from Irish League and international football to Ulster Rugby and both county and club GAA matches.

Step Five: 'Preparing for the Future'

In this open-ended phase, increased numbers of spectators will be permitted.

Belfast Telegraph


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