Boris Johnson describes cricket ball as ‘vector of disease’ as grassroots cricket remains banned

Prime Minister Boris Johnson has described a cricket ball as a “natural vector of disease” as he confirmed the sport remains banned outside the elite level.

England are due to play their first Test since the sporting shutdown brought about by the coronavirus pandemic when they face West Indies at the Ageas Bowl on July 8, and the tourists kicked off a three-day intra-squad warm-up match at Emirates Old Trafford on Tuesday.

But it remains unclear when the sport may be allowed to restart at grassroots level, with the PM saying on Tuesday “we’re still working on ways to make cricket more Covid-secure, but we can’t change the guidance yet.”

Coronavirus – Tue Jun 23, 2020
Boris Johnson spoke in the House of Commons on Tuesday about the reduction of further lockdown measures (PA).

Tory chair of the science and technology committee Greg Clark asked about the return of cricket, saying: “Can he now specify from his statement whether the ban on cricket has come to an end. Cricket is perhaps our most socially distanced team sport. We’ve lost half the summer, but there is another half left to be enjoyed by players and spectators alike.”

Johnson said: “The problem with cricket as everybody understands, that the ball is a natural vector of disease, potentially, at any rate and we’ve been round it many times with our scientific friends.

“At the moment we’re still working on ways to make cricket more Covid-secure, but we can’t change the guidance yet.”

Culture Secretary Oliver Dowden tweeted on Tuesday that “subject to public health, our aspiration is to reopen gyms & leisure facilities in mid-July.”

GYMS

Many people keen to hit the gym & keeping Britain fit is key in Covid battle

We’ve made lots of progress & I know steps businesses have taken to make their spaces & equipment safe

Subject to public health, our aspiration is to reopen gyms & leisure facilities in mid-July

— Oliver Dowden (@OliverDowden) June 23, 2020

Meanwhile, Sport England released a statement, in which chair Nick Bitel said: “The sport and physical activity sector has been working incredibly hard preparing to reopen leisure, fitness and sports centres, with painstaking measures in place to ensure venues meet public health guidelines

“We understand that difficult choices need to be made as the country exits lockdown, and while it is disappointing for the sector that no specific date has been given for the reopening of facilities today, we will continue to work closely with government to ensure this happens as soon as possible, ideally within the coming weeks, an ambition we know is shared by government.

“It’s important that government continues to engage with the sector to get these facilities open, not just because activity levels will clearly become a vital public health intervention in the new Covid-19 era, but also because the longer they stay closed, the greater the danger to their ability to survive financially.

“We are also continuing to work closely with team sports’ National Governing Bodies to set out a detailed and phased plan for their return, ideally within the coming weeks and welcome confirmation today that outdoor gyms and playgrounds will reopen soon.”

Read Full Story Click here to comment

FROM OUR PARTNERS