Outdoor sports facilities allowed to open, athletes can train in groups of six

Outdoor sports facilities which had been shut for two months because of the COVID-19 pandemic have been reopened as of today, with groups of up to six athletes being allowed to train together.

The opening comes the day after the government published a set of guidelines outlining the gradual reopening of open-air facilities. Addressing a news conference on Saturday, Parliamentary Secretary for Sport Clifton Grima said the new guidelines were part of "a roadmap to normality".

Activities are being restricted to six athletes, including coaches, and participants must maintain a distance of two to three metres from each other depending on the sport.

The facilities may allow a maximum of one person per 20 square metres of space. Athletes are prohibited from borrowing any equipment from each other.

Grima cautioned that the reopening of indoor venues, competitions and large-scale events were still distant prospects.

After Malta's football season was cut short this week, Grima was asked whether the ongoing pandemic could disrupt or delay the start of next season’s football and basketball competitions.  The parliamentary secretary said venues would have to be adapted for the seasons to be possible.

He warned that it was a new reality where, until a vaccine is available, what was previously acceptable may no longer be so in the future.

Grima added that the Maltese authorities would also be taking ideas from other countries on how to adapt venues to allow competitions to resume.

Luciano Busuttil, chairman of State agency SportMalta, called on athletes to follow the new guidelines, to make it possible to relax restrictions even further in the coming weeks.

Clubs registered with the agency would soon be able to dip in to a special fund to set up to help them manage the COVID-19 crisis.

SportMalta CEO Mark Cutajar said that the agency had used the past 11 weeks of closure to carry out maintenance works on its facilities, also announcing that works on a new tennis centre would be starting in the coming weeks. Cutajar added that funds which had been earmarked for hosting certain events had been diverted to sports clubs.

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