League hockey can continue in England as planned PIC: England Hockey

There was huge relief for leagues as outdoor hockey was given the green light to continue “as planned for the foreseeable future” by England Hockey following the prime minister’s address on Tuesday.

While rules on outdoor organised team environments remain unchanged, it is reported that ministers could extend the rule of six to include contact team sports – such as rugby, football and hockey – if coronavirus cases continue to rise across England.

With hundreds of amateur players set to travel to away games this weekend, in updated travel guidance, the government has also advised people to try not to share a car with individuals that they don’t live with or who are not in their “support bubble”.

England Hockey told THP: “Government has clear travel advice on car sharing and it is this guidance that EH is following to the letter.”

A 34-page government document advised that if people have to share a car, try to do so with the same people each time. In addition, people in the vehicle should keep windows open and face away from each other.

With potential problems facing the sport through catching the virus, England Hockey said that there wouldn’t be funding available for clubs thinking of hiring larger vehicles to travel.

Despite hockey being allowed to take place as a grassroots sport and no testing taking place at clubs, THP asked England Hockey for a definitive statement given the close contact nature of the sport as hockey leagues kick into action this weekend.

“Cricket and Football does not have testing at community level; only professional sports have testing programmes and ‘biosecure bubbles’,” EH said.

“The government has continued to allow organised team sports at community level because the medical evidence for transmission of covid on the field of play is proven to be fleeting (less than 3 mins per match) and as long as social distancing outside of play is maintained then the risk of transmission during hockey is deemed minimal. Also ‘organised’ activity is seen to be safer than informal activity. All organised outdoor team sports that have approval via government have been allowed to continue.”

EH reiterated the necessity of following guidance in an updated statement on Wednesday where some other sports have fallen short.

“The new rules made it perfectly clear that organised outdoor sport is considered to be a safe activity. This endorses the assessment of the medical evidence that team sport NGBs, including England Hockey, have had agreed by Public Health England and DCMS. The key point is that organised activity is being supported, therefore the expectation for all involved in delivering hockey is to ensure that the guidance is followed – particularly the need to maintain a safe social distance outside of play.

“In some other sports, activity has been stopped where there is evidence of the guidance not being followed, and we do not want that to have to happen in hockey.”

Meanwhile, the UK government’s latest update does mean that indoor hockey is unlikely to take place this winter.

Indoor organised sport for over 18s will no longer be exempt from the rule of six. However there is an exemption for indoor organised team sports for disabled people from Thursday.

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