The planned return of parkrun events has been postponed until June 26 after the landowner’s permit “fell far short” of what was needed, the organization said.
It comes just days after Culture Secretary Oliver Dowden said ministers would write to local authorities and landowners in England warning them that they must allow Parkrun events to restart.
MPs were told that Parkrun had received legal permission from the government and Public Health England under Covid to return since March 29th.
Jo Stevens, secretary for shadow culture, had told the Commons: “More than three million people take part in Parkrun in England. It plays an important role in the physical and mental well-being of the participants, and Parkrun has had legal permission to return with a Covid framework from the Government and Public Health England since March 29th. ”
The free Saturday morning 5K event was due to resume on Saturday 5th June in England. Parkrun said, however, that only about 250 of the 589 venues that had previously hosted the weekly run had given permission for the event to return.
“This falls far short of the critical mass required to prevent those who have been given approval from being overwhelmed,” Parkrun said in a statement.
The events have had legal permission since March 29 to resume under the government’s first step on the roadmap out of lockdown.
Parkrun Global Chief Operating Officer Tom Williams described the delay as “disappointing” but added that he was “incredibly grateful to all of the landowners who gave us the green light to continue.”
He added, “We are having positive discussions with landowners for all other events that have not yet been approved and we are continuing to work with them to set this new restart date.”
The announcement of the delay comes just days after Culture Secretary Oliver Dowden told the Commons that he and Community Secretary Robert Jenrick would “shortly be sending a very clear message and a written signal to local officials” that the runs should continue .
A spokesman for the Local Government Association (LGA) said earlier, “Councils understand how valuable events like parkrun are to people’s mental and physical wellbeing.
“They are very keen to ensure the safe return of events in their area and the LGA has been in contact with the organizers to assist in their restart.
“The pent-up demand for events meant that the councils received around 600% more applications than normal, including from Parkrun.
“Waiting for the ‘recovery roadmap’ schedule to be confirmed has also resulted in most of these requests having to be sent on short notice, and many organizers want to use the same outdoor spaces.
“Parks and green spaces are particularly busy with many of the indoor activities that are taking place outdoors during the pandemic.
“The councils appreciate the excitement for resuming events, but they must carefully consider all requests to ensure that everyone involved is safe to attend.
“The councils are working as quickly as possible to deal with all inquiries. However, organizers need to understand the scale of the challenge they are facing. Public safety is the most important criterion that must be taken into account for all park users. “
Parkrun added that it was “hopeful” that runs in Northern Ireland can also return on June 26th.
Park runs in Scotland are expected to return on July 3rd, while a return flight date for Wales has not yet been confirmed.