As the province starts to ease lockdown restrictions aimed at stemming the spread of COVID-19, the government has unveiled a plan for the restarting of organized sports in Quebec. Premier François Legault talked about the plan during his daily coronavirus briefing on Thursday. But anyone hoping for a quick return to the carefree days when touching other people was okay will find little to cheer about as physical distancing rules are to be respected on the field of play.

“I want everybody to understand that this is a gradual plan,” he said.

“I understand those who want to reopen their sector as soon as possible, but we must follow the steps and be patient. And, above all, we must not stop our individual efforts against the virus."

"We're going in the right direction, but we don't want to backtrack.”  

Starting June 8, soccer and baseball players will be able to start training but they won’t be playing games anytime soon.

In addition, they’ll have to follow strict physical-distancing rules, explained junior education minister Isabelle Charest.  

“The two-metre distance rules must be respected at all times,” she said.  

Teams might be allowed to resume competitive play by the end of June but public health authorities will have to give their approval first, she said.  

The new rules are sure to change the way many sports are played — a tight man-to-man defense in soccer is presumably out of the question — but Charest said this was the best that young athletes who have been forced indoors these past months could hope for, for now.   

“You have to be aware that the sport will not be played the same way this summer,” said Charest.

“You have to be aware that there will be a lot of adaptation to do. But I still trust that the pleasure will be there.”  

Charest — who also happens to be an Olympic medalist in speed skating — also said that private outdoor pools and guided outdoor pursuits, such as yoga, would also be allowed on June 8.  

Quebecers have been allowed to participate in some activities that can be practised outdoors, includes hiking, track and field, cycling, rock-climbing, canoeing and horseback riding, since May 20.

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