Coronavirus: Prime Minister advises against mass gatherings

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Prime Minister Boris Johnson has advised against mass gatherings in the UK amid the coronavirus outbreak – effectively cancelling all remaining sporting events.

Johnson said that from Tuesday mass gatherings requiring emergency workers are something “we are now moving emphatically away from”.

He added that social venues, including pubs, should be avoided.

But he reiterated that transmission risks at mass gatherings remain low.

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“It remains true – as we said in the last few weeks – that this sort of transmissions of the disease at mass gatherings such as sporting events are relatively low, but obviously, logically, as we advise against unnecessary social contact of all kinds, it’s right that we should extend that advice to mass gatherings as well,” said Johnson.

“And so we’ve also got to ensure that we have the critical workers we need that might otherwise be deployed for those gatherings, to deal with those emergencies.

“So from tomorrow we will no longer be supporting mass gatherings with emergency workers in the way that we normally do.”

On Monday:

  • Football’s National League was suspended until 3 April
  • Rugby union’s Premiership was suspended for five weeks
  • The Heineken Champions Cup and Challenge Cup quarter-final matches will not be played
  • The RFU suspended all rugby activity at both professional and community level until 14 April
  • The FA advised grassroots football is postponed
  • The 2020 Boat Race, due to take place on 29 March, was cancelled
  • The Isle of Man TT races, due to take place from 30 May to 12 June, was cancelled
  • Rugby league’s Super League was suspended until 3 April
  • The Olympic European boxing qualifying event in London, which started on Saturday and went behind closed doors on Sunday, will be suspended after Monday night’s session
  • British Gymnastics cancelled all its events, including the FIG World Cup and the British Artistic Championships, until the end of June 2020

A Football Association statement on grassroots football said: “Following the government’s announcement today, for people to avoid social contact and gatherings where possible, we are now advising that all grassroots football in England is postponed.

“Throughout this period, we have taken government advice with the priority being the health and wellbeing of all. We will continue to work closely with the grassroots game during this time.”

As it stands, the Grand National, due to take place on Saturday 4 April, is still on. The British Horseracing Authority is expected to issue a further update on Tuesday following the UK government’s new advice.

Last Friday, the coronavirus pandemic wiped out most of the world’s major sporting events in an unprecedented 24 hours.

European football’s governing body, Uefa, is hosting a video conference with major stakeholders on Tuesday.

Euro 2020 is set to be postponed to allow league seasons to be completed.

The Tokyo 2020 Olympics, to be held from 24 July and 9 August, remain on. Organisers will meet via teleconference on Tuesday to discuss the latest coronavirus developments and the impact on the Games.

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