The UK on Saturday announced that it would start allowing live competitive sports matches behind closed doors next week as British authorities reported that the total UK-wide death toll from the novel coronavirus increased by 215 in 24 hours, hitting 38,376.

In a daily press briefing, Digital, Culture, Media Sport Secretary Oliver Dowden said live sports would return on Monday, but behind closed doors.

It will be up to each sport to decide when to return, he said, with horse-racing to be the first to resume.

On football, a third of the remaining matches in this Premier League season will be free to view, including the Liverpool vs Everton derby, one of the biggest matches in the league.

This will be the first time in history that live Premier League football will be aired on the BBC.

In a further easing of lockdown restrictions, Dowden said that also beginning Monday, people will be allowed to exercise with up to five people from other households, as long as they maintained social distance.

The pandemic has claimed nearly 366,000 lives in 188 countries and regions since originating in China last December. The US, Brazil and Russia are currently the world’s worst-hit countries.

More than 5.97 million cases have been reported worldwide. Over 2.52 million people have recovered so far, according to figures compiled by the US’ Johns Hopkins University.

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