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Angling Trust pushes for changes in Tier-3 travel restrictions

The resumption of grass-roots sports starts from today (Wednesday, December 2) in England, but The Angling Trust has registered its disappointment that the Government’s travel  guidance has not included sport or outdoor recreation as an acceptable reason to leave or enter a Tier 3 area.

The Trust says that it "means their [the government's] much vaunted pledge to allow the resumption of grassroots sports in all tiers has turned out to be rather hollow".

Oliver Dowden, Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport announced "we are reopening sports and gyms in every tier, in recognition of the significant health benefits. However, for anglers, the reality is that for residents in Tier 3 areas – including several areas in the Midlands, North East, North West, South East, South West and Yorkshire and The Humber – that their return to grassroots sport is confined within their own local authority areas, as travel outside of each tier – for sport, or exercise – is banned. The Government’s current travel guidance states: "Avoid travelling out of the area, other than where necessary such as for work, education, youth services, medical attention or because of caring responsibilities. Reduce the number of journeys made where possible"

By not including travel for sport, thousands of sporting enthusiasts, covering around a third of the country, mainly in urban areas could find themselves unable to access fishing.

The Angling Trust has had to suspend its regional and national (coarse fishing) qualifying competitions over the next two months for fear of breaching the Covid travel guidelines and, in tandem with England Golf, have written to Oliver Dowden, suggesting adding the words "organised sport and outdoor recreation" to the list of travel exemptions, which would allow match fishing and golf tournaments to take place. Both golf and fishing are recognised as being socially distanced sports. Currently, in Tier 3 areas, people cannot meet socially indoors or in many outdoor places with people they do not live with, or with people who are not part of a support bubble.
Oliver Dowden has said about the new Tier system: “This is a big step forward for sport. Bringing grassroots sport back was my number one priority".

Martin Salter, Head of Policy at the Angling Trust commented: “The Government clearly hasn’t thought this through properly as it’s a nonsense to think that competitive grass-root sports, like golf, angling and many others, can operate properly if confined within tightly drawn local council boundaries. It’s one thing being restricted to an entire county but quite another if people are told they shouldn't leave a built up urban area to take part in a safe, socially distanced sport like fishing".

The tiers will will be reviewed on 16 December, any changes to the tiers will be announced on 17 December, and changes will come into force on 19 December.

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