Imminent re-start of angling – but only in England

LOCKDOWN measures are being modified – and for anglers in England, at least, that looks like the positive news so many have been waiting for.

The Angling Trust has put the case for angling to resume – and in a super safe way.

On Sunday, May 10, Boris Johnson announced several tweaks to the rules during the Covid-19 crisis.

The Prime Minister had earlier unveiled the new message of  ‘stay alert, control the virus, save lives’ in England.

The social distancing message is still being emphased as crucial, everywhere.

In England from Wednesday, May 13, people will be allowed to take unlimited exercise outdoors. And they will be able to enjoy parks and public spaces without having to exercise.

The prospect of an imminent return angling, with safe social distancing, caught many people by surprise.

Exact details are being sought by the whole sport, with the Angling Trust leading the way, and promising updates.

Swift statement from Trust

The Angling Trust’s new CEO Jamie Cook and chief policy advisor Martin Salter, a former MP, reacted quickly to the breaking news. They posted this statement on the Trust’s Facebook…

“Last week we launched our #WhenWeFishAgain campaign – with thousands of you getting involved.

“This week #WeAreFishingAgain – with angling in England due to begin on Wednesday 13th May 2020.

“We’ll keep an eye on the detail tomorrow (Monday, May 11) and keep you updated – but for now it’s positive news for the angling community.

“It is absolutely crucial that social distancing measures are adhered to and that the guidance to participate alone or with members of your own household are followed.

“We must not breach the rules the Prime Minister has laid down and we must ensure that we all act as ambassadors for our sport.

Our phase one guidance portal is available to help clubs, fisheries and anglers prepare for our safe return to angling. 

“We’re proud to have represented anglers in these discussions. We appreciate the support of those who have had input and who have joined us over the past week.

“We hope that many more of you who have seen the benefit in working together with a single voice on the big issues impacting our sport will join us to build a bright new future for fish and fishing. We are stronger together!”

Further developments

Leading MP Oliver Dowden, the Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport, tweeted: “In recent weeks our daily exercise has been so important to our health and wellbeing.

“Now in tentative steps forward, and in the least risky outdoor environments, we can imminently allow some sports activity like golf, basketball, tennis, fishing – solo/in households. Guidance to follow.”

The Angling Trust later announced that Jamie Cook and Martin Salter would help share more information via Facebook Live event on Monday (May 11).

That forum is due to start at 6pm on the Angling Trust’s Facebook page, and will be hosted by Ali Hamidi.

However, the prospect for an imminent return to angling in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland appears to have been ruled out at this point.

And phased reopening of shops, including tackle shops, currently looks unlikely until June at the earliest.

That decision would be based upon assessment of the Covid-19 infection rate. It falls into the second step roughly outlined for England to try and move on during the crisis.

Martin Salter commented: “There is still work to do to get tackle shops open and to provide good advice to fisheries, guides and coaches, but it looks like we are there and it’s no longer a question of when we fish again but ‘where are we going fishing on Wednesday?’.

“We have run a fabulous campaign but we couldn’t have done it without the support of thousands of anglers who wrote to their MPs and of some of the top names in our sport who gave us their time and expertise.”

Meanwhile, other sports are also looking for further information and some are getting ready for a socially distanced re-start in England. Golfers reacted positively to their Wednesday, May 13 resumption, providing it’s solo or as a household group.

Overall, the Prime Minister’s latest statement raised more questions than answers. Further clarity is expected to emerge over the days ahead.

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