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Ipswich Town fans hoping to be among the regional tiers allowed to welcome limited spectators back in grounds as grassroots sports given green light to return

Supporters can return to football grounds in lower transmission areas while organised grassroots sports will also be allowed to resume when the country comes out of the second Covid-19 lockdown on December 2.

It means a limited number of spectators could be back inside Ipswich Town's Portman Road within three weeks' time, when Portsmouth visit on Saturday, December 12.

Up to 4,000 fans or 50 per cent of stadium capacity - whichever is lower - will be allowed outdoors in tier 1 areas.

Crowds could return to Ipswich Town's Portman Road before Christmas, under capped limitsPicture: Mecha Morton
Crowds could return to Ipswich Town's Portman Road before Christmas, under capped limitsPicture: Mecha Morton

In tier 2 areas, it will be up to 2,000 fans or 50 per cent of stadium capacity - whichever is lower.

Prime minister Boris Johnson, who is re-introducing the tiered system from Thursday, December 3, said in an address to The Commons today: "At tiers 1 and 2, spectator sports and business events will be free to resume inside and outside with capacity limits and social distancing."

He also said that areas in tier 2 will only be allowed to serve "alcohol in hospitality settings as part of a substantial meal" while the 10pm hospitality cut-off is being extended to last orders at 10pm with closing at 11pm.

Tiers are due to be announced later on Thursday, but if Suffolk were to be placed in tier 3 or subsequently moved into the highest risk level it would mean Town would continue to play games behind closed doors - as they have been doing since the League One season began in September.

"We expect more regions will fall at least temporarily into higher levels than before," said Mr Johnson. "It should be possible for areas to move down the scale to lower levels of restrictions."

The green light for both indoor and outdoor grassroots sports to return across all tiers is a big boost for the area though with golf clubs aggrieved to have been left having to shut up in the light of fisheries and angling waters continuing on socially-distanced measures.

There are still complications for indoor team sports though, such as senior (over-18) basketball, having previously been prevented under a 'rule of six' measure which will again be in operation in tiers 1 and 2 and extended to just within your own household in tier 3 areas.

Non-league football appears set to resume on the previous limits of capacity it was already able to operate on before the second lockdown, providing the area is in either teirs 1 or 2.

But it appears there is now set to be a blanket ban on crowds in tier 3 areas which may stop teams in those areas staging games, with leagues having previously said playing behind closed doors would not be financially viable for their clubs.

The government's website states: "Organised grassroots sport is allowed to resume from 2 December across all levels, providing social distancing remains in place, although there will be some restrictions on highest-risk activity in tier three areas. Spectators at non-elite sports will be able to attend events in line with Covid-secure guidance for each tier.

"Indoor sport and physical activity will also resume, although there will be restrictions on some activities due to the higher transmission risk of coronavirus in an indoor setting. Restrictions will depend on the alert level that applies to your local area.

"In tier one areas indoor sports can take place within the rule of six. This will mean people from different households could play 3 on 3 volleyball, or four people from different households could play doubles tennis or badminton. Group activities such as training sessions and exercise classes can take place in larger numbers, provided that people are in separate groups (up to 6 people) which do not mix.

"In tier two areas, indoor sport can take place within households, and people can take part in group activity like exercise classes as long as there is no mixing between households. People can play certain sports which do not involve close proximity or physical contact against one person from another household, such as a singles tennis match or badminton match.

"In tier three areas, indoor sport will be restricted to within your household only, and there should be no group activity such as exercise classes.

"Further guidance will be published in due course."

Read more: All the latest Suffolk sport