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Nobody’s exactly sure what Government’s “super simple rule” about social gatherings means for cycling events

Illegal for more than six people to gather from Monday – British Cycling and Cycling UK still trying to work out what that will mean in practice

"In social settings, you can't gather in groups of more than six. That's it, [a] really super simple rule," said Health Secretary Matt Hancock on the BBC yesterday morning. Sport England have since said that people can take part in organised sports and activities that have been through return to play protocols. What exactly does that mean in practice? Clarity, as ever, is just a touch muddy.

From September 14, it will be illegal for more than six people to gather either indoors or outdoors in England, with fines of £100 dished out to those who don't comply.

Organised team sports carried out in a "COVID-secure way" can however involve more than six people.

According to Sport England, people can continue to:

  • take part in organised sports and activities that have been through return to play protocols
  • take part in organised outdoor sports and physical activity events
  • use leisure facilities, including gyms and pools

A spokesperson explained: “That’s because these sports and activities have stringent plans in place to reduce the risk of Covid-19, and these venues are classed as Covid secure given the measures they have introduced.”

In June, British Cycling published a document, The Way Forward: Planning a safe return to cycle sport events, in which it outlined how it planned to return to normal activities post-lockdown, and also announced the return of coaching and club activities.

Competitive events got back underway in August, followed by sportives from September 5.

New rules introduced for sportives were that participants must not ride in groups of more than six at any point during the event.

Riders were to be released from the start line in waves, each departing at 45-second intervals, and with start times allocated to ensure that no more than 24 riders in the vicinity of the start line at any time.

Organisers were also asked to ensure that event village, feed station and start/finish infrastructure was large enough to accommodate social distancing, and that riders could access their goody bags, medals or refreshments via a ‘self-serve’ system.

Events were also obliged to ensure that they are aware of and adhere to any relevant local restrictions.

Much of this would seem to fit with the new rule about groups of six – until you start wondering whether half a dozen riders in a group would need to be from just three households in line with the new rules for meeting outside.

We would guess that this detail is sidestepped through considering a sportive a “Covid secure event” - but that is by no means certain.

The obligation to adhere to local restrictions, meanwhile, appears a potential can of worms, opening up the possibility of different local authorities or police forces interpreting the rules differently - particularly with many councils asking for much greater control in terms of how they manage coronavirus.

British Cycling were uncertain what the changes would mean when we asked them to clarify yesterday.

We also spoke with Cycling UK, who told us they were, "trying to work out what it all means," and would be deciding on a policy soon.

Alex has written for more cricket publications than the rest of the team combined. Despite the apparent evidence of this picture, he doesn't especially like cake.

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