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Anger and confusion as GMB’s Dr Hilary explains why kids could be banned from outdoor sport

Debate has erupted online whether children should be able to take part in outdoor sport from later this week, after GMB’s Dr Hilary Jones explained the government’s rationale for banning the activity in the upcoming new set of restrictions.

The Good Morning Britain team were reacting to a report from The Sun in which MPs and sports officials ‘demanded’ the return of kids’ football.

Almost 100,000 people have signed a petition to keep grassroots football going throughout the second lockdown.

While it is still unclear exactly how the new regulations will affect amateur and grassroots sport, all indoor and outdoor leisure facilities will be forced to close as part of the lockdown, such as swimming pools, golf courses, and other sports venues.



Kids’ football could be banned as part of the upcoming second lockdown (stock photo)

Presenter Piers Morgan, who was sat alongside Susanna Reid, argued that the regulations don’t make sense when considering kids will be mixing in schools all day which will still be open.

“The Sun raised some of the incongruousness of these rules now – why ban kids from outdoor sport, they’re going to be mixing all day at school?,” he asked.

“Why would they not be able to play football?”

In response, the show’s health editor gave his backing to the government’s reasoning.

“You can pick holes in every little logical argument. The bottom line is you need simplicity and you need clarity,” he explained.

“If you have children playing football, they’re not in close contact, they’re getting exercise in the open air, you can understand why people are saying ‘why can’t they do that if they can do that at school?’

“The bottom line is that when parents take their children to outdoor football matches they congregate on the touch line, you’ve got parents together in the same place, they might be outside but you’ve still got the risk of transmission.”



The health editor’s views have resulted in a huge debate online

Despite this reasoning, MPs including Julian Knight of the Conservatives are pushing for the ‘blanket ban’ to be lifted.

In this morning’s show, Piers pushed further, asking Dr Hilary to clarify how the rules make sense when people can still gather in the shops.

Meanwhile, some professional sports such as the Premier League are still set to continue.

“What parents might say is why would we trust people to socially distance at a supermarket for example in large numbers but we don’t trust them to do it when playing football,” he asked.

“It’s the inconsistency when we trust Premier League players to do it,” he added.

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“Why for example ban golf when two people can play on their own? Why from a medical/scientific point of view are golf and tennis for example [banned]?”

Dr Hilary Jones responded: “They’re safer outdoors if they’re socially distancing but you don’t need to be playing football in the middle of a global pandemic – you do need to get food.

“For every golfer, tennis player or kid’s football parent, if everybody becomes an exception then there is no lockdown.

“Either you have a lockdown or you don’t – that’s my personal view. I know it’s awful for people to suck this up and to take it on the chin but unless we get control of the virus it will get out of hand.”

The segment of the show resulted in fierce debate online.

Former Everton and Manchester City player Michael Ball said Dr Hilary was ‘chatting wham’.

“Parents congregate more outside school gates than grassroots football. Oh just to note, parents haven’t been allowed pitch side to watch their child play since Covid,” he said.

A netball junior coach agreed: “No transmission of cases reported at any training, and safety measures rival those is my job,” she argued.

“The kids go in, form a socially distanced queue, are temperature checked, fill a form of how they are feeling and then go in if the staff see they are fit enough. Let them play!” a third person said.

Others agreed to ban outdoor sports during the lockdown: “My husband runs a youth football team and the basic lack of respect for the COVID rules are shocking, from the parents on a Sunday morning there is up to 60 people on and off the pitch all mixing together and from different areas it needs to halt,” one person said.

“This is no lockdown where the biggest footfalls of schools, unis, colleges, manufacturing and construction remain open. Now everybody wants a bit of sport too,” said another.



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