Prime Minister Boris Johnson addressed the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland on Sunday and gave the latest update on the coronavirus pandemic in the UK as Premier League fans listened on intently.
[ MORE: Key week ahead for PL ]
Johnson did not lift lockdown orders and did not mention anything about professional sports returning to the UK in the coming weeks, although more details are expected to emerge on Monday.
Most importantly, social distancing measures will still be in place until at least June 1 across the UK. The UK currently has the highest death toll in Europe due to the coronavirus pandemic with close to 32,000 deaths recorded.
We are essentially no clearer to finding out when the Premier League season will resume, or if it will at all, as the 2019-20 campaign has been suspended since March 13. The plan was to resume group training on May 18 and games on June 12.
“This is not the time to simply end this lockdown this week,” Johnson said. “We are taking the first steps to modify our measures. Those that can’t work from home should go to work. From this Wednesday, you can even play sports but only with members only of your own households. You must obey the rules on social distancing and to enforce those rules we will increase the fines for the small minority who break them. And so every day, with ever increasing data, we will be monitoring the R and the number of new infections, and the progress we are making, and if we as a nation begin to fulfil the conditions I have set out, then in the next few weeks and months we may be able to go further.
That bit about “playing sports with households” in his statement is interesting as it could potentially open up the possibility for Premier League clubs and players to be housed together in a hotel and therefore train and play games, if they are first tested for COVID-19 and their results come back as negative. Also, Johnson said that those we “can’t work from home should go to work.” So does that mean Premier League players?
The next Premier League club meeting will be on Monday, May 11 to try and move ‘Project Restart’ to the next phase and there could possibly be a vote on resuming the season in the next week.
All 20 Premier League clubs have so far agreed that they want to finish the current season but only when things improve and it is safe to play again. Several clubs (Watford, Brighton and Aston Villa) have publicly opposed the plan to play the remaining 92 games of the 2019-20 Premier League season at neutral stadiums.
UEFA have asked all of its member associations to reveal their plans for the 2019-20 domestic seasons by May 25, so the Premier League has just over two weeks to try and figure things out and a key vote will likely come before that date.
Some of the other key notes from Boris Johnson’s speech are as follows, as he said the relaxation of certain rules are flexible and will be changed as they look at the scientific numbers.
Phase One, Wednesday, May 13 – People are allowed outside as many times as they want during the day as long as they are social-distancing. Unlimited exercise, golf, fishing, sit in a local park, go to the beach and sunbath all mentioned by Johnson. People can also drive to other destinations for exercise rather than staying local.
Phase Two, June 1 at earliest – Schools, phased re-openings. Non-essential shops could open again.
Phase Three, July 1 at earliest – Plan is to reopen some of the hospitality industry, other public places. That is all contingent on the R rate.