Since March, many of us have had our daily routines upended by the Covid-19 pandemic and ensuing lockdown. With measures now being eased, and outdoor exercise allowed in public spaces, many are wondering when other activities could resume.
The Premier League played its first matches since the lockdown this month, albeit behind closed doors, and there are ongoing discussions about how to get the rest of the football leagues back up and running in the UK.
In the daily Downing Street briefing on 17 June, Oliver Dowden, the digital, culture, media and sport secretary, said that the government is hoping that some outdoor sporting activities will be allowed again from as early as the start of July.
This could include five-a-side football games and other community sport. Speaking at the press conference, Mr Dowden said: “We’re working closely with the sector to get grassroots and community sport back up and running as soon as it is safe to do so, with an aim of the start of July at the very earliest.”
He also revealed that he has been looking at the “role sport can play in improving young people’s physical and indeed their mental health” as young people across the country start heading back to school.
One concept that some schools might want to consider is holding more of their lessons outdoors. National Outdoor Classroom day was on 12 June and, as Hemel Today reported, a number of schools in Hemel Hempstead got involved.
The newspaper revealed that some local schools embraced the idea and designed lessons to help pupils reconnect with the great outdoors.
Of course, there is still much debate in the UK about how we’re going to be able to get pupils back to school safely come September. For some schools, using outdoor spaces for a greater number of lessons and activities is a consideration. But that means making sure that these outdoor areas are suitable for lessons.
With the UK weather being notoriously unpredictable, it could be advisable to invest in artificial grass for schools for at least some outdoor spaces to ensure that they can be used all year round without too much disruption to activities.
Headmaster at Locker’s Park, a school in Hemel Hempstead, Christopher Wilson told the news provider that setting pupils outdoor challenges was a good way to get them to engage with nature.
“Playing and learning outside engages and excites children, helping boost their health and happiness. This is more important now than ever before,” he asserted.
Astroturf and other areas of artificial grass could also be useful for adults who want to play sports, such as five-a-side football when the government decides that it’s safe for such activities to resume later this year.
The Covid-19 pandemic has certainly made many of us think differently about how we exercise and what outdoor spaces we have available to us. Making these areas accessible and usable in all weathers is therefore likely to grow in importance in the coming weeks and months.