OUTDOOR sports will return from Monday, March 29, vaccines minister Nadhim Zahawi has announced.

In addition, Prime Minister Boris Johnson has announced limited crowds can return to elite sporting events from Monday, May 17.

Secretary of State for Digitial, Culture, Media and Sport Oliver Dowden fleshed out the details while Mr Johnson this afternoon unveiled his roadmap out of lockdown.

Smaller elite venues will welcome up to 4,000 fans with stadium grading limits, or up to 50 per cent capacity - whichever is lower.

Larger elite venues can introduce up to 10,000 spectators with ground grading caps, or up to 25 per cent capacity - whichever is lower.

Before lockdown, Weymouth reached a maximum of 800 fans under guidance from the Sports Grounds Safety Authority, while Dorchester's limit was 600.

Not before Monday, June 21, full stadiums could be a possibility.

It is not yet clear whether non-elite clubs could welcome back fans sooner.

Indoor events will be capped at 50 per cent capacity or 1,000, the lowest prevailing.

Tennis, golf, athletics and basketball could all benefit - as well as organised adult and children's sports at grassroots level.

However, indoor facilities such as leisure centres, swimming pools and gyms face a longer wait due to the increased risk of transmission inside.

“The simple way to look at this is that outdoor is safer and therefore we prioritise versus indoor,” Zahawi told LBC.

“Outdoor sports – tennis, golf, outdoor organised team sports, grassroots football – will go back on March 29.”

Pushed on when gyms and fitness centres could reopen, he added: “At the moment, it’s outdoors versus indoors.

"Outdoors is the priority because it’s where the transmission rates are much, much, much lower.”

Footballers will be especially enthused by the decision, with non-League having been paused for almost two months.

Bosses at Southern League, Northern League and Isthmian League level are meeting tomorrow to decide whether to null and void their leagues or continue.

Spectators have been barred since the scrapping of the tier system.

Money made from fans is vital to the healthy running of non-League, with many clubs' budgets dependent on income from clubhouses and match day revenue.

Dorchester Town, in the Southern League, are among the teams to publicly announce their backing for null and void, with only seven of 38 matches played.

Last week, clubs in the National League North and South - one division above the Magpies - voted to null and void their season.

Weymouth, however, will press on with their National League campaign.

The easing of restrictions will happen on a nationwide, rather than a regional, basis.

In the second part of step one – not before March 29 – organised outdoor sports for children and adults can return, and outdoor sports facilities such as tennis and basketball courts can reopen.

At step two, which would be from April 12 at the earliest, use of indoor leisure facilities such as gyms for individuals or household groups will be possible.

All children will be able to attend any indoor children’s activity in step two, including sport, regardless of circumstance, the Government’s road map documents said.

Alongside the partial reopening of sports venues at step three, organised indoor adult sport will be possible.

Pilot events for the return of spectators are expected to begin as part of the Government’s Event Research Programme from April.

These will use “enhanced testing approaches and other measures to run events with larger crowd sizes and reduced social distancing to evaluate the outcomes”.

Findings from pilots across the sport and cultural sectors will be brought together to develop a “consistent approach” to removing capacity limits as part of step four – which would start no earlier than June 21.

The third national lockdown began on January 4.