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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-the-public-on-the-phased-return-of-outdoor-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.
What we’re doing
You can now exercise alone, with up to 5 other people from outside your household. Gatherings of more than 6 people indoors or outdoors continue not to be permitted, unless this is essential for work purposes.
Single adult households are now able to form a support bubble with one other household. For the purposes of this guidance, all references to ‘households’ also include their support bubble.
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.
Check in advance if the facilities you want to use have reopened.
When exercising in the countryside remember to follow the countryside code and act responsibly.
If possible, hand sanitise at intervals if your sport or recreation means you have to touch communal surfaces.
Once you are home remember to wash your hands.
Try to avoid using shared equipment such as racquets and bats.
If catering facilities are open at the venue (for takeaway items) respect social distancing whilst queuing for food and drink. Do not share food items, cups, plates or eating utensils with anyone else.
If you are symptomatic or living in a household with someone else who has a possible or confirmed COVID-19 infection you should remain at home and you should not have visitors to your household.
If you have been asked to isolate by NHS Test and Trace because you are a contact of a known COVID-19 case, do not exercise outside your own home or garden and do not exercise with others; you can spread the virus to others even if you never get symptoms.
It is important, as more sports and activities restart, that absolutely everyone is able to access these opportunities. This includes disabled people, for whom the health and well-being benefits of activity can be particularly important.
What facilities are open
Outdoor sports courts, outdoor gyms, outdoor swimming pools and playgrounds and other outdoor sporting activities can reopen if those responsible for them are ready to do so and they can do so safely, following COVID-19 Secure guidelines.
Indoor gyms, swimming pools and leisure facilities can also open following the indoor facilities guidance.
Travelling for physical activity
You can travel for physical activity. Ideally use your nearest, local appropriate venue to reduce pressure on transport infrastructure. But you can travel to outdoor open space irrespective of distance. You shouldn’t travel with someone from outside your household unless you can practise social distancing - for example by cycling. It is not possible to practice effective social distancing in small vehicles.
To help keep yourself and your fellow passengers safe, you should not travel if you: are experiencing any coronavirus symptoms, are self-isolating as a result of coronavirus symptoms or as a result of being in contact of a confirmed case of COVID-19, or sharing a household with somebody with symptoms, or are clinically extremely vulnerable.
If you have been asked to isolate by NHS Test and Trace because you are a contact of a known COVID-19 case, do not exercise outside your own home or garden and do not exercise with others; you can spread the virus to others even if you never get symptoms
See the government’s safer travel guidance for passengers for further information.
Clinically vulnerable people (such as people aged 70 and over)
The advice for clinically vulnerable groups has changed. If you are in this group you could be at higher risk of severe illness from coronavirus. Although you can meet people outdoors and indoors, you should be especially careful and be diligent about social distancing and hand hygiene.
If you are classified as clinically extremely vulnerable you should follow the guidance for those shielding. This has been updated to advise that you can now consider taking safe exercise outdoors and meeting up with one person outside your household, always maintaining social distancing and robust hand and respiratory hygiene.
If you have children with you
You can bring your children with you to exercise. You can exercise with members of your household, and it’s important that children have as many chances to be as active as possible.
But please remember that if you have children with you, you are responsible for supervising them at all times and in line with social distancing guidelines. Children are not always good at hand hygiene; the virus can be spread by touching contaminated surfaces. Therefore pay special attention to children’s hand hygiene.
Using sport facilities
From 13 May, sports courts including basketball and tennis courts, bowling greens and playing spaces like golf courses (public and private) were able to reopen. Other outdoor sports facilities such as angling were also allowed to resume.
All of these activities must only be undertaken alone, with up to but no more than 5 other people following social distancing guidelines.
It is important that when facilities reopen, they ensure that disabled people and those with access requirements are able to safely access the sports and activities on offer in line with social distancing guidelines.
Timetable for reopening
For the facilities that are now allowed to open, each venue, including council-owned sports facilities, will make their own decisions about when their facilities are ready to open and can be operated safely. Please check ahead on websites and social media to make sure before you arrive at a facility that it has reopened and what advice they are offering users, for example if there is a booking system.
The government has also published high level guidance for elite athletes and professional sportsmen and women, in order to allow them to resume performance training and competition.
Government is working with National Governing Bodies of sport to determine what additional and specific guidance may be needed in future.
It is a decision for facility managers whether or not they hire out equipment.
We would expect them to follow sensible precautions and clean in between users, and to follow COVID-19 Secure guidelines.
Where possible we recommend that you limit sharing of equipment, for example you should use your own tennis racquet, golf club or basketball, but if you do, practise strict hand hygiene.
If you are sharing equipment, including balls, you should wash your hands thoroughly before and after use.
Changing rooms are an area of increased risk of transmission. It is important that social distancing is maintained in changing rooms and showers and that they are only use if essential. All venues should encourage attendees to arrive at the facility in sports kit and where possible to travel home to change/shower. Use of changing rooms and showering facilities should in general be avoided where possible, although these must be available for participants with disabilities or special needs and are likely to be needed after swimming. If changing rooms are to be used, users should use the facilities as quickly as possible.
For more information see the Providers of grassroots sport and gym/leisure facilities guidance.
Bars and restaurants
Bars and restaurants, including any food or drink facilities inside a clubhouse can open in accordance with the latest guidance.
Toilets and through-ways may be kept open, but guidance on hygiene should be followed.
Where it is anticipated that an activity will attract spectators, there should be a named person or persons with responsibility for ensuring adherence with these guidelines and ensuring the facility is COVID-19 Secure. The person should carry out and publish a risk assessment for the activity which limits the number of spectators and focuses on the need to maintain social distancing on arrival, for the duration of the activity, and on departure.
Arrangements should also be put in place to support test and trace efforts by collecting information from spectators which is detailed enough to allow NHS Test and Trace to contact them if necessary. See the NHS Test and Trace: how it works for further information.
Personal trainers and coaching
Organised sporting or other fitness related activities are allowed (including personal training or coaching) to continue in groups of more than 6. This can be in any place, indoors or outdoors, other than a ‘private dwelling’ - a term which includes most outdoor space such as a garden.
These activities need to be organised by a national governing body, club, registered instructor/coach, business or charity. In all cases, the organiser must conduct a risk assessment and take all reasonable steps to limit transmission of the coronavirus by reference to that risk assessment and all relevant COVID-19 Secure guidance. Personal trainers/coaches should follow the guidance on organising outdoor sport and physical activity events further down this page.
When participating in organised sport, you must not mingle in groups of more than 6 before and after the activity. If an organiser is not able to ensure that no mingling takes place between sub-groups of no more than 6 (including when arriving at or leaving activity or in any breaks or socialising) then such events should not take place. Attendees must avoid social interaction with anyone outside the group they are with, even if they see other people they know, at all times during their visit.
To ensure safe practices, personal trainers/coaches should consider limiting the number of classes which they teach to minimise exposure and transmission between groups.
Coaching or training for children should follow the out of school settings guidance.
Any sports coaches or trainers undertaking 1-1 sessions should ensure they are complying with relevant National Governing Body Safeguarding Policies and Procedures and conduct a thorough risk assessment before engaging in any sessions. This should include particular consideration for under 18s and vulnerable adults.
Athletics tracks can re-open, but this is at the discretion of the facility and must be done in a way that adheres to guidance on social distancing.
You can go fishing alone or with no more than 5 other people. You should always follow social distancing guidelines when encountering others.
Like most other shops, tackle shops can open.
You can play golf providing you only meet up with no more than 5 other people and observe social distancing guidelines. Clubhouse bars and restaurants can open, in accordance with the latest guidance.
You can ride a horse, providing that you are alone or with no more than 5 other people. Two households can also meet in groups of more than 6 people, provided members of different households can follow social distancing guidelines. You should observe social distancing where possible when encountering other riders or the public.
You are allowed to visit venues like a riding club to exercise which includes the use of large, open and well-ventilated equestrian covered arenas (these are sometimes termed ‘indoor’ arenas by equestrians but due to their size and ventilation are not considered indoor for the purposes of this guidance). You should only do so alone, with members of your household or with no more than 5 other people from another household as long as you can follow social distancing guidelines. You should check ahead to ensure that these facilities are open and prepared to receive visitors.
Lawn bowls and croquet
You can play lawn bowls and croquet where facilities have reopened, but you can only take part in these activities by yourself or with no more than 5 other people, as long as you are able to maintain social distancing.
Outdoor and indoor swimming pools can now open.
You can play tennis providing you meet up with no more than 5 other people and observe social distancing guidelines. You can also play doubles tennis with people from outside of your household as long as you follow social distancing guidelines.
You can go to the beach as long as you are alone or with no more than 5 other people and follow social distancing guidelines. You should not share a private vehicle with anyone outside your own household and you should follow social distancing guidelines when encountering others. If you are swimming while at the beach, you should only do so if a lifeguard is on duty.
All forms of water sports practised on open waterways, including sailing, windsurfing, canoeing, rowing, kayaking, surfing, paddle-boarding and the use of privately owned motorised craft (in line with the guidance issued by the relevant navigation authority) are allowed provided that the guidance on social distancing is observed.
You are allowed to visit venues like a sailing club to exercise. You should only do so alone or with 5 other people as long as you follow social distancing guidelines. You should check ahead to ensure that these facilities are open and prepared to receive visitors.
Organising outdoor sport and physical activity events
The government has published guidance on a range of issues core to the delivery of outdoor sport and physical activity participation events. See guidance for people who work in grassroots sport and gym/leisure facilities.
As well as the general principles around mitigating risks, the rules on gatherings, and taking full responsibility for the safe delivery of a sporting event, organisers will want to particularly draw on the following in their planning:
operating strictly within government guidance and ensuring event delivery plans are COVID secure
communicating clearly and consistently with all participants and support staff including volunteers
being adaptable to change, for example if a local lockdown were to be necessary
rules on gatherings
test NHS Test and trace requirements including recording of participants and officials to facilitate contacting by NHS Test and Trace if needed
maintaining physical and personal hygiene
keeping participants, officials, volunteers, and staff safe
any necessary protective equipment or face coverings for staff
access to temporary or permanent toilets and changing facilities or those with special needs and disabilities
use of car parks
accessible provision within the site and the facility
Event delivery plan and guidance
Each event organiser should produce a written delivery plan and any related guidance, demonstrating its mitigations, how it plans to operate including responsibility for overseeing compliance, and any adaptations required.
Delivery plans should take into account that there are three variables of transmission. Each event will provide an assessment of the transmission risk that a return to Sport and Activity Outdoor Events represents based on three key variables:
Droplet transmission and aerosol generation: The risk associated with each action in an activity based on duration and proximity of participants
Fomite transmission: The risk associated with the handling and transfer of equipment in the activity
Population: The number of participants likely to take part in the proposed activity plus known risk factors of participants with underlying health conditions or high-risk groups, who wish to participate
Based on this overall risk profile some sport and physical activity outdoor events will be lower risk than others and better suited to return to activity earlier with or without adaptation. For events reliant on third party owned or managed facilities, adherence to these government guidance should be worked out collaboratively.
Risk assessments should be completed in line with guidance from the Health and Safety Executive (HSE).
All events should ensure that they comply with the relevant national governing body safeguarding policies and Procedures and conduct a thorough risk assessment which should be included as part of the action plan.
Consideration needs to be given to children and young people under the age of 18 and vulnerable adults. Event organisers should commit to demonstrating to their normal licensing authorities that these principles are adhered to throughout the planning and delivery of the event.
Social distancing and avoiding crowding
The event timetable should be designed to permit only as many people as can be admitted whilst social distancing is maintained at the event at any given time. The event areas must be designed in order to maximise the available space for each participant and minimise the amount of time participants spend in proximity to each other.
Where possible, event organisers should ensure that event briefings for participants should be delivered in advance of the event day, with considerations given to suitable methods of communication to inform participants of any last-minute changes.
Having completed the droplet transmission risk assessment, each sport may introduce ‘COVID-19 adaptations’ to lower the frequency of activities that cannot be done whilst socially distanced. Avoid unnecessary breaking of social distancing such as handshakes, huddles, and celebrations between participants.
Supporters, parents, and other spectators remain socially distanced whilst attending events. Spectator groups must be restricted to discrete six person gathering limits and spread out, in line with wider government guidance. Crowding or congregation must be strictly avoided.
Event organisers must ensure that pre-start assembly areas, the start line and holding areas are designed so that participants do not need to assemble at the start of the event in a manner which conflicts with social distancing guidelines. Event organisers should consider rolling start times to allow social distancing to be maintained.
The capacity and density of the participants on the course should always allow for social distancing. Organisers should consider pinch points on the course before, during and after the event and manage them accordingly in align with government guidance on social distancing. Other features such as entertainment should be withdrawn.
Potential contact points such as the handling of medals, timing chips and numbers should be managed appropriately. Participants should be discouraged from bringing any equipment, baggage, or clothing that is not essential for their participation in the event, and should as far as possible, make their own arrangements for safe storage. Where these need to be stored centrally, only the owner should handle the equipment. If others need to handle it, strict hand hygiene measures should be observed.
If essential to event safety/participant wellbeing, access to feed and drink stations should be provided in such a way that social distancing can still be observed by officials and participants. Mitigations should be put in place to ensure risks are managed as much as possible in these environments.
Pre-event symptom check
All participants, officials, volunteers and spectators must undergo a self-assessment for any COVID-19 symptoms. No-one should leave home to participate in sport or officiate if they, or someone they live with, has any of the following:
A high temperature
A new, continuous cough
A loss of, or change to, their sense of smell or taste
Should an individual have demonstrated any such symptoms, they must follow NHS and PHE guidance on self-isolation.
Participants will be made aware of any increased risk associated with taking part in activity, based on the assessment undertaken by the event organiser. They should also be strongly advised to comply with public health restrictions and avoid high risk behaviour outside the sports setting to reduce the risk to their fellow participants when they do attend.
Event organisers should undertake, in conjunction with local NHS services, detailed and continuous assessments to ensure there are no detrimental impacts of staging the event on the wider community and healthcare systems.
The best way to offer protection is through rigorous cleaning, personal hygiene and regular hand hygiene. An increased frequency of cleaning and disinfection of all surfaces and equipment, using standard household cleaning and disinfection products, is recommended. Face coverings are also advisable when undertaking treatment.
Injuries during the event should still be treated as participant wellbeing is paramount.
After contact with an injured participant, clean your hands thoroughly with soap and water or alcohol hand sanitiser at the earliest opportunity. This advice is applicable to all situations, regardless of whether there was close contact, or the minimum 2 metre social distancing was maintained. Avoid touching your mouth, eyes and nose.
Physios or their equivalent, should keep a record of each participant they have come into contact with for test and trace purposes.
See also further information for those who may need to act as a ‘first responder’ role in a sports setting.