CLUB cricket can resume next weekend, Boris Johnson has said.
He joked that he had consulted the “third umpire” over whether it is safe to give the go-ahead and they had given the green light.
New government guidance on how to play the sport in a Covid-secure way will be published in the coming days, the PM said.
England’s chief medical officer Professor Chris Whitty said one of the difficulties with cricket is it brings together a “much larger number of people in terms of linking households” than is allowed in guidelines.
But he said: “It is perfectly possible to have cricket where people do keep their distance, and provided people don’t do things that are clearly not sensible, ranging from hugging the bowler if they just bowled someone for a duck through to spitting on the ball.
“It should be possible to make the game itself really very safe as an outdoor sport at a distance, it’s not a contact sport in the sense that some of high-risk outdoor sports are.”
He said there were risks with people going into a crowded space such as a pavilion to have a tea or a beer.
Professor Whitty said: “This comes onto the pub issue.
“The biggest risks are when lots of people from lots of different households are brought together in close proximity indoors, and whether that’s in a pub or cricket pavilion that is a high-risk activity.”
‘Vector of disease’
The PM had previously said the reason why cricket couldn’t return yet was because of the ball being a “vector of disease”.
But he said at last night’s press conference in No10: “I sought scientific advice and medical opinions, the third umpire has been invoked.
“What I can say is that we do want to work as fast as possible to get cricket back, and we will be publishing guidelines in the next few days so that cricket can resume in time for next weekend.”
The government’s scientific advisory group, Sage, has no plans to review the evidence behind the ban on cricket.
It is understood there is no scientific reason why the sport has been singled out and it is not thought to pose a particular threat.