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Parkrun events delayed until July 24 following lockdown decision

·3-min read
Participants stretch ahead of the 5km parkrun around Hyde Park in Leeds (PA Archive)
Participants stretch ahead of the 5km parkrun around Hyde Park in Leeds (PA Archive)

Parkrun events will not return in England until at least July 24 after the Government postponed the lifting of pandemic restrictions, organisers said.

The free 5km Saturday morning runs were due to restart on Saturday, June 5 before issues around accessing running spaces pushed their return to June 26.

Parkrun UK said in a statement on Monday evening: “A huge amount of work has been done in recent weeks to ensure we have permission to return from the large majority of landowners.

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“Whilst this delay is disappointing, we respect the fact that a significant number of these permissions were contingent on the country moving into Step 4, and we will therefore target a new reopening date of Saturday 24 July.”

Organisers had previously said the decision to proceed with events from June 26 was subject to any changes in the road map announced by Boris Johnson.

It comes after Communities Secretary Robert Jenrick and Culture Secretary Oliver Dowden wrote to all councils in the UK last month urging them to permit weekly Parkrun events to resume in their areas.

The ministers recognised the pressures that local authorities were under to consider requests for organised outdoor sports safely, but emphasised these events were exempt from legal gathering limits and could take place with any number of members as long as they were in line with Covid guidance.

The letter added: “Parkrun needs approximately 80 per cent of Parkruns to be allowed to go ahead to prevent people travelling across the country from areas without a Parkrun operating, to ones which are.”

The letter said the government had been clear that Parkrun events were legally able to occur, with research showing mass-participation events such as marathons and fun runs can occur safely.

“In the interest of public health they should now restart,” it said.

“We therefore strongly urge local authorities to ensure that they are applying their powers in a consistent and proportionate manner and progressing Parkrun’s applications at pace in order to allow these events to return as soon as possible,” Mr Jenrick and Mr Dowden said.

Plans for all remaining restrictions to be eased were dashed on Monday following Mr Johnson’s announcement that ‘freedom day’ would be postponed until July 19.

He said during a Downing Street press conference it is “sensible to wait just a little longer” as he put back the end of all legal limits on social contact by a month.

He hopes deaths will be significantly reduced by July 19 because it is expected two-thirds of adults will have been offered both vaccine doses by then due to the delay being coupled with a reduction in the time between jabs for the over-40s.

For now, limits on numbers for sports events, theatres and cinemas will remain in place, nightclubs will stay shuttered and people will be asked to continue working from home where possible.

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