GRASSROOTS sport in Somerset is in limbo, following the government's announcement of a new four-week lockdown across England, in order to try and keep Covid-19 infections under control.

From Thursday, November 5, people are advised to stay at home, and while outdoor exercise and recreation is encouraged, gyms, swimming pools and other leisure venues will have to close.

Elite sport - including the Premier League and English Football League - is allowed to continue behind closed doors, but it is unlikely that grassroots team sport will be permitted.

On Saturday, the Football Association said: "We acknowledge the government's announcement today regarding Covid-19 restrictions and are awaiting further information before we can confirm how this may affect non-elite football across England.

"We will communicate any necessary updates in due course."

England Hockey has already made the decision to cancel club hockey between November 5 and December 4.

Its statement read: "England Hockey are disappointed to have to confirm that the national lockdown announced on Saturday will mean no club or community hockey from November 5 until after December 4 at the earliest.

"The latest government announcement orders all sports facilities to close and therefore club and other community hockey activity is suspended until the game is in a position to resume.

"Over the last few months all those involved in delivering hockey safely have helped to prove that the sport is extremely low risk in terms of the transmission of Covid and this gives us confidence that we can be back soon."

Non-team sports have made their case for being allowed to continue at community level, however.

The Lawn Tennis Association (LTA) said: "The new restrictions mean that indoor tennis activity will need to cease during this period [November 5-December 2].

"Given tennis is a socially distanced sport with the net acting as a natural barrier, we are making the case to government for outdoor tennis activity for two individuals from different households to continue, in line with government restrictions on exercise that have been announced, and are awaiting clarification."

The LTA has also urged tennis players to write to their MP and make the case for outdoor courts staying open.

As for England Golf, its chief executive Jeremy Tomlinson said: "Having digested the prime minister’s statement to the nation on Saturday night and read the guidance which followed, there is an element of confusion around the government’s stated intention to close down golf courses and facilities from Thursday, November 5.

"As a result of this, and with the health of the nation very much at the heart of my thinking, I would like to make clear England Golf’s intention to respectfully challenge the government’s rationale for closing golf courses.

"The news that the prime minister is actively encouraging safe and responsible outdoor exercise for households or two individuals pointed to our great game of golf being at the heart of this policy.

"The guidance which followed stating that golf courses were on a list of venues which should close, therefore, appeared contradictory and came out of the blue.

"At no point was England Golf - as the governing body for the amateur game of golf in this country - consulted about this decision.

"Of course, we fully recognise and accept the need to suppress the virus to save lives and protect the NHS.

"Throughout the pandemic England Golf has endeavoured to act with authority, knowledge, understanding and extreme diligence.

"At all times we have placed the health and wellbeing of our communities as a priority.

"For this and many reasons, it is our sincere belief that it is now counter-productive to shut down a healthy pursuit which naturally lends itself to social distancing and is played in a Covid-secure manner in the open air."

A petition to exempt golf courses from the list of venues required to close gained 255,848 signatures, meaning that Parliament will consider it for a debate.

The Sport and Recreation Alliance, which represents national sports organisations as well as community clubs and leisure facilities, has requested "urgent support" from the government.

Alliance chief executive Lisa Wainwright said: "This is understandably a tough decision and one which impacts the whole country.

"It can’t be dismissed or ignored that we are in a public health crisis, but we remain resolute in our support for leisure facilities and community sport to be used in the recovery of the nation.

"The closure of our facilities will once again place a financial burden on thousands of community clubs who are already reeling from the initial lockdown and we fear that many may never re-open their doors without a comprehensive Sports Recovery Fund provided by government.

"With another lockdown looming, this funding is now essential.

"We are deeply concerned that restricting access to these facilities may not only prove to be the final nail in the coffin for a number of these clubs, but that we may also see a return to the dramatic drop in activity levels witnessed in the first lockdown, especially in some of our most vulnerable groups.

"Following on from our letter to the prime minister signed by over 160 leaders in the physical activity sector, we strongly urge government to now action our asks and to save our sports - for the sake of the nation.

"It is clear, to help us get through this pandemic and to support the NHS, we need people to be active and healthy.

"We need support to ensure that once lockdown ends, our facilities and clubs can welcome their communities back to improve both the physical and mental health of the country."