WHILE elite sport can continue behind closed doors, angling could be the only regulated grassroots and recreational activity to continue during England's Covid-19 lockdown from Thursday.

In order to reduce social contact, among the facilities the Government has ordered to close are indoor and outdoor leisure facilities such as bowling alleys, leisure centres and gyms, sports facilities including swimming pools, golf courses and driving ranges, dance studios, stables and riding centres, soft play facilities, climbing walls and climbing centres, archery and shooting ranges, water and theme parks.

Team sports have been restricted through the declaration that people can only exercise or visit outdoor public places with the people they live with, are in a support bubble with, or with one person from another household.

The Football Association has today confirmed matches and training in steps three to six of the men’s national league system (NLS) and tiers three to seven of the women’s football pyramid will be suspended during the month-long period.

Requests to Government from specific sports, such as golf and tennis, to be allowed to continue in a socially-distanced manner have so far been resisted.

People will still be able to walk, run and cycle within the guidelines.

And the Angling Trust, the national governing body representing all game, coarse and sea anglers and angling in England, are confident fishing will be allowed to continue.

Angling was the first activity allowed back into action during the spring UK lockdown.

"Angling Trust staff have been working hard over the weekend to ensure that angling in England can continue during the forthcoming lockdown," says a statement on the Angling Trust website.

"Unlike golf and tennis the Government have not asked fisheries to close and their announcement and guidance makes clear that outdoor recreation at ‘parks and gardens’ and at ‘beaches' and in the ‘countryside’ is to be deemed a legitimate reason for leaving home from November 5.

"The travel guidance was updated yesterday and it seems that short journeys from home for these purposes are to be permitted.

"There are a number of other issues on which we are seeking clarification. We are hearing that the final regulations will not now be published until Wednesday but we will update everybody the moment we know more. We remain confident that we will still be fishing from Thursday so please be patient!"

Meanwhile, ukactive chairman Baroness Grey-Thompson has questioned the decision to close gyms, stating that even the Scientific Advice for Emergencies (SAGE) group had spoken about the “detrimental” impact of shutting them again.

“Through July ukactive worked with the Chief Medical Officer, with SAGE, with Public Health England, to get guidance which covers ventilation, track and trace, hygiene, social distancing and got the highest guidance of any sector,” she told talkSPORT.

“That enabled us to open gyms and leisure provision. In September SAGE really, clearly highlighted the fact that if gyms closed again it was going to have a detrimental effect, not just on people’s physical health but on their mental health and well-being as well.”

Golf courses and tennis courts have sought exemptions from the restrictions but Prime Minister Boris Johnson appeared to rule out any changes when he spoke in the House of Commons yesterday.

“Once you unpick at one thing alas the effectiveness of the whole package is compromised,” he said.

Cabinet minister Michael Gove had to apologise this morning after wrongly indicating it would be fine to play tennis or golf if it was with just one other person.

Archery has joined the list of sports seeking an exemption from the new lockdown restrictions, saying it poses no more risk to health than “taking a country walk”.

But Government guidance on the measures designed to limit the spread of coronavirus specifically mention archery ranges among the list of venues which must close until at least December 2.

Archery GB’s chief executive Neil Armitage has called for ranges to remain open and said: “We agree with comments from fellow sports such as golf and tennis and believe that certain sports, particularly outdoor archery, can be safe with the current appropriate common-sense measures in place.

“The nature of our sport is that it may be enjoyed outdoors with adequate social distancing and Covid-secure protocols. Shooting arrows outdoors represents no more risk than taking a country walk, one could argue that it represents a lower risk as protocols are in place at all outdoor ranges.”