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This publication is available at https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/coronavirus-covid-19-guidance-on-phased-return-of-sport-and-recreation/guidance-for-providers-of-outdoor-facilities-on-the-phased-return-of-sport-and-recreation
This guide applies to COVID Alert Level 1 (Medium). If you’re in an area in COVID Alert Level 2 (High) or 3 (Very High), check local restrictions.
Outdoor sports courts are allowed to be open if those responsible for them can open them safely.
This includes basketball and tennis courts, playing spaces like golf courses (public and private) and playing fields and water sports. Outdoor gyms, outdoor swimming pools and playgrounds can also open. Indoor gyms, swimming pools and leisure facilities can open in line with the Indoor facilities guidance.
Each venue, including council-owned sports facilities, should make their own decisions about when their facilities are ready.
Principles to help organisations prepare for a phased return to play
Working to ensure the activity can meet public health guidelines
All activity should be consistent with the government guidance regarding health, social distancing and hygiene.
That means that participants and others can follow social distancing guidelines, that good hygiene practices are in place, that equipment is disinfected regularly, and that it is clear that anyone who is symptomatic or suspects they have been exposed to the virus does not take part and remains at home.
Consider the whole end-to-end ‘user journey’ when planning safe operating practices; this means all activities from the time of arrival on site to leaving, not just the sporting activity.
Communicating clearly and consistently
Organisations will need to communicate clearly and regularly with members and participants setting out what they are doing to manage risk, and what advice they are giving to individuals to do likewise.
Ideally organisations should publish an action plan detailing their plans to re-open safely and the steps they are taking to avoid confusion.
Organisations should also communicate clearly opening times and how people can safely access a facility, if relevant, for example through a booking or queuing system.
It is more important than ever to consider inclusive guidance for people who need support to be active and organisations should consider this as part of their work to encourage people to return.
The opening up of the economy following the COVID-19 outbreak is being supported by NHS Test and Trace. You must assist this service by keeping a temporary record of your customers and visitors for 21 days, in a way that is manageable for your business, and assist NHS Test and Trace with requests for that data if needed. This could help contain clusters or outbreaks. Many businesses that take bookings already have systems for recording their customers and visitors. If you do not already do this, you must do so to help fight the virus. We have worked with industry and relevant bodies to design a system in line with data protection legislation, details of which can be found here.
You must assist the Test and Trace service by keeping a temporary record of your staff shift patterns for 21 days and assist NHS Test and Trace with requests for that data if needed. This could help contain clusters or outbreaks.
Flexibility and innovation
Organisations should be ready to strengthen or relax measures at short notice. Organisations are encouraged to think creatively about how best to make their sport or activity possible within these guidelines.
The limit on gatherings - no more than 6. See guidance on meeting with others safely.
See team sport guidance.
People should continue to socially distance from those they do not live with wherever possible. Social interactions should be limited to a group of no more than 6.
Businesses and venues following COVID-19 Secure guidelines can host larger groups. This is also the case for events in public outdoor spaces that are organised by businesses, charitable or political organisations, and public bodies, provided they take reasonable steps to mitigate the risk of transmission, in line with COVID-19 Secure guidance and including completion of a risk assessment. Any other gathering in an outdoor space must not be any larger than 30 people.
In particular, those operating venues or running events following COVID-19 Secure guidelines should take additional steps to ensure the safety of the public and prevent large gatherings or mass events from taking place. From 15 August, venues can permit indoor performances to socially distanced audiences, including drama, comedy and music. Performances must be in line with the Performing Arts guidance.
Individual businesses or venues should consider the cumulative impact of many venues re-opening in a small area. This means working with local authorities, neighbouring businesses and travel operators to assess this risk and applying additional mitigations. These could include:
Further lowering capacity - even if it is possible to safely seat a number of people inside a venue, it may not be safe for them all to travel or enter that venue
Staggering entry times with other venues and taking steps to avoid queues building up in surrounding areas
Arranging one-way travel routes between transport hubs and venues
Advising patrons to avoid particular forms of transport or routes and to avoid crowded areas when in transit to the venue
Local authorities should avoid issuing licenses for events that could lead to larger gatherings forming and provide advice to businesses on how to manage events of this type. If appropriate, the government has powers under schedule 22 of the Coronavirus Act 2020 to close venues hosting large gatherings or prohibit certain events (or types of event) from taking place.
Reopening your outdoors sports facility
Timetable for reopening
You should only reopen or restart activities as soon as you feel able to do so safely. Until you feel it is safe and responsible to reopen you should remain closed.
From 1 July, employers can bring back to work employees that have previously been furloughed for any amount of time and any shift pattern, while still being able to claim a Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme grant for their normal hours not worked. For the latest information on the scheme refer to the guidance.
Booking in advance, online or over the phone is preferable. Where this is not possible, and a venue has staff available to take bookings (for courts or rounds, for example), consider mandating contactless or at least card payment, to avoid handling cash.
Managing large groups
The government is clear that sports participation should be restricted to participants exercising by themselves or in a group of no more than 5 other people while observing social distancing guidelines. Venues are advised to display signs to this effect. See the team sport guidance.
Costs of reopening
The government will not help meet the cost of reopening and it will be for each organisation to determine whether it is right for them to re-open at this time.
Keeping facilities and equipment clean
Cleaning protocols should be put in place to limit coronavirus transmission in public places. It is advised that touch points (e.g. handrails and gates) should be particular areas of focus for increased cleaning.
Frequent cleaning of work areas and equipment between use, using your usual cleaning products, is advised. As is clearing workspaces and removing waste and belongings from work areas at the end of shifts.
Maintaining hygiene, through handwashing, sanitisation facilities and toilets
To help everyone maintain good hygiene, consideration should be given to:
- Using signs and posters to build awareness of good handwashing technique, the need to increase handwashing frequency, avoid touching your face and to cough or sneeze into your arm. Consider how to ensure safety messages reach those with hearing or vision impairments
- Providing regular reminders and signage to maintain hygiene standards
- Providing hand sanitiser in multiple locations in addition to washrooms
- Setting clear use and cleaning guidance for toilets to ensure they are kept clean and social distancing is achieved
- Enhancing cleaning for busy areas
- Providing more waste facilities and more frequent rubbish collection
- Using disposable paper towels in handwashing facilities where possible
- Minimising use of portable toilets
- Provision of automated hand sanitising dispensers in public places
- Ensuring that takeaway catering facilities can be used in a safe way that maintains social distancing and hygiene
Keeping staff and customers safe
The government has published guidance to help workplaces operate as safely as possible. You should refer to this guidance.
Three key points, to be implemented as soon as is practical are:
- Carrying out a COVID-19 risk assessment, in consultation with workers or trade unions
- Maintaining social distancing, such as by re-designing spaces or by opening more entrances and exits
- Reinforcing cleaning processes, cleaning more frequently and paying close attention to high-contact objects like door handles and keyboards
For staff only:
- Where people cannot maintain social distancing at all times, managing transmission risk, for example by creating workplace shift patterns or fixed teams, or ensuring colleagues are facing away from each other. You must assist the Test and Trace service by keeping a temporary record of your staff shift patterns for 21 days and assist NHS Test and Trace with requests for that data if needed. This could help contain clusters or outbreaks. We have worked with industry and relevant bodies to design a system in line with data protection legislation, details of which can be found here.
You should also provide clear guidance on social distancing and hygiene to visitors on arrival; for example, signage and visual aids.
Social distancing guidelines should be followed between people from different households wherever possible. This means a distance of 2m between people from different households, or 1m plus mitigations (such as face coverings or avoiding face-to-face contact) where 2m is not possible.
Protective equipment for staff
When managing the risk of COVID-19, additional PPE beyond what you usually wear is not beneficial.
Unless you are in a situation where the risk of COVID-19 transmission is very high, your risk assessment should reflect the fact that the role of PPE in providing additional protection is extremely limited. However, if your risk assessment does show that PPE is required, then you should provide this PPE free of charge to workers who need it. Any PPE provided must fit properly.
Workplaces should not encourage the precautionary use of extra PPE to protect against COVID-19 except in clinical or care settings (first aid rooms) or when responding to a suspected or confirmed case of COVID-19.
Where you are already using protective equipment (including PPE) at your facilities to protect against non-COVID-19 risks, you should continue to do so.
Face coverings for staff
If you can, wear a face covering in an enclosed space where social distancing isn’t possible and where you will come into contact with people you do not normally meet. This is most relevant for short periods indoors in crowded areas, for example on public transport or in some shops. The evidence suggests that wearing a face covering does not protect you, but it may provide some protection for others you come into close contact with if you are infected but have not developed symptoms. Face coverings do not replace social distancing.
If you have symptoms of COVID-19 (cough and/or high temperature) you and your household should isolate at home: wearing a face covering does not change this. A face covering is not the same as the surgical masks or respirators used as part of personal protective equipment by healthcare and other workers; these should continue to be reserved for those who need them to protect against risks in their workplace such as health and care workers and those in industrial settings like those exposed to dust hazards.
Face coverings should not be used by children under the age of 2 or those who may find it difficult to manage them correctly, for example primary age children unassisted, or those with respiratory conditions. It is important to use face coverings properly and wash your hands before putting them on and taking them off. Please be mindful that the wearing of a face covering may inhibit communication with people who rely on lip reading, facial expressions and clear sound.
Entering a building to access outdoor courts, use the toilet, or purchase food and drink
If you opt to open your building for these purposes, there are a number of things you can do to help minimise risks and avoid accidental gatherings.
Ensure clear signage is in place so people can find their destination quickly. Looking at how people walk through your building and consider how you could adjust this to reduce congestion and contact between customers. For example, queue management or one-way flow, where possible. Using outside premises for queuing where available and safe, for example car parks.
Take into account total floorspace as well as likely pinch points and busy areas. Limiting the number of customers in the building, overall and in any particular congestion areas, for example doorways between outside and inside spaces. See guidance on spending time outdoors.
Restaurants, changing rooms and car parks
Bars and restaurants, including any food or drink facilities inside a clubhouse can open, in accordance with the latest guidance.
Make customers aware of, and encourage compliance with, limits on gatherings. For example, on arrival or at booking. Indoor gatherings are limited to 6 people.
At till points, consider mandating contactless or at least card payment, to avoid handling cash. Also ensure social distancing between customers and servers when food or drink is handed over. Also consider using screens at till points.
Indoor facilities, apart from toilets and through-ways, should be kept closed.
You may reopen car parks if you need to.