Guidance

Coronavirus (COVID-19): grassroots sports guidance for the public and sport providers

This guidance sets out information for the public and sport providers on how to participate in grassroots sport and physical activity during COVID restrictions.

National restrictions apply in England from 6 January. People should stay at home where possible and should only travel to work if they cannot work from home.

Find out about the new restrictions and what you can and cannot do.

You should minimise time spent outside your home, but you can only leave your home to exercise, and not for the purpose of recreation or leisure (e.g. a picnic or a social meeting). This should be limited to once per day, and you should not travel outside your local area. Exercise includes but is not limited to running, cycling, walking, and swimming. Personal training can continue.

You can exercise in a public outdoor place:

  • by yourself

  • with the people you live with

  • with your support bubble (if you are legally permitted to form one)

  • in a childcare bubble where providing childcare

  • or, when on your own, with 1 person from another household

When around other people, stay 2 metres apart from anyone not in your household - meaning the people you live with - or your support bubble. Where this is not possible, stay 1 metre apart with extra precautions (like wearing a face covering).

Public outdoor places include:

  • parks, beaches, countryside accessible to the public, forests

  • public gardens (whether or not you pay to enter them)

  • the grounds of a heritage site

  • playgrounds

Indoor gyms, climbing walls, dance studios and sports facilities must close along with outdoor sports courts, outdoor gyms, golf courses, outdoor swimming pools, archery/ driving/shooting ranges and riding arenas.

Children under 5, and up to 2 carers for a person with a disability who needs continuous care, are not counted towards the gatherings limit on two or more people exercising outside.

If you (or a person in your care) have a health condition that has routinely required you to leave the home to maintain your health - including if that involves travel beyond your local area or exercise multiple times a day - then you can do so.

The guidance below is suspended for the period of national restrictions, but remains here for reference. During the current national restrictions, you must adhere to the rules set out above.

This guidance sets out information for the public and sport providers on how to participate in grassroots sport and physical activity during COVID-19 restrictions.

Sport providers should use this guidance to inform how they provide grassroots sport and physical activity, alongside guidance for their sport set out by their national governing body. There is separate guidance for national governing bodies and other organisations on the processes they should go through to develop this guidance, which includes the team sport framework, contact combat sport framework, and specific guidance on delivering organised sport participation events (such as races and organised walking groups). There is separate guidance for elite sport.

Introduction

Sport and physical activity play a hugely important role in our lives, however to uphold wider public health objectives, limits have been placed on some activities and settings in order to limit social contact and reduce transmission.

Staying active is a vital weapon against COVID-19, which is why people will always be able to, and encouraged to, exercise even during periods of tough restrictions. People should try to ensure they exercise regularly in a way that suits them, as physical activity plays a vital role in both our physical and mental wellbeing.

In this guidance, ‘organised sport’ refers to sport which is formally organised by a national governing body, club, public body, qualified instructor, company or charity, and which follows the sport’s national governing body’s guidance. For team sports and higher-risk activities, this guidance must be approved by government before the sport can resume. Restrictions and exemptions which apply to organised sport (such as training or playing a match with your local club) are a departure from the legal gathering limits which normally apply. Informal or self-organised sport (such as a kickabout with friends) is not covered, and can only take place within the legal gathering limits which otherwise apply

Participation in sport and physical activity: key points

Tier 4 areas

In tier 4 areas, you must not leave your home or be outside your home, except for specific purposes which include individual exercise outdoors - alone, with 1 other person, or within your household or bubble.

What this means

  • You are allowed to leave your home to exercise outdoors. This should be done locally wherever possible, but you can travel a short distance within your tier 4 area to do so if necessary (for example, to access an open space). If you need to travel, you should walk or cycle where possible, and follow guidance on safe travel.

  • There is no limit on the amount of individual exercise you can do, but you should act responsibly and limit transmission risk wherever possible.

  • You can exercise outdoors in a public place - alone, with 1 other person, or within your household or bubble. Children under 5, and up to two carers for a person with a disability who needs continuous care are not counted towards the gatherings limit of two people meeting outside. This means, for example, that a parent with a baby can still go for a walk with a friend. You should maintain social distance when exercising with anybody who you do not live with, unless they are in your support bubble, and you are advised to avoid any activity which requires close contact. You cannot exercise with or meet someone you do not live with (or from your support bubble) in a private garden.

  • There is no restriction on the type of activity you can do when exercising outdoors, provided that you are within the permitted gathering limits. This includes both organised and informal/self-organised outdoor sport. The only exceptions are organised outdoor sport for people with disabilities, sport for educational purposes and supervised sport and physical activity for under-18s (including those who were under 18 on 31 August 2020), which can continue with any number of participants.

  • You should not take part in any indoor sport or physical activity. Indoor sport facilities will be closed. Organised indoor sport is only permitted where it is for educational purposes or supervised sport and physical activity for under-18s (including those who were under 18 on 31 August 2020) that enable parents/carers to work or seek work, or to participate in education.

  • Personal training is only permitted for 1:1 sessions (or sessions for people from the same household or support bubble) which take place in outdoor public spaces such as parks.

Organised outdoor sport

  • In tier 1, 2 and 3 areas, organised outdoor sport is exempt from legal gathering limits and can take place in any number, but modifications to high-risk activities should be made in tier 3 areas.
  • In tier 4 areas, you can only take part in individual exercise outdoors - alone, with 1 other person, or within your household or bubble.

What this means

In tier 1, 2 and 3 areas: organised outdoor team sport and outdoor exercise classes, as well as outdoor licensed physical activity, can happen with any number of participants, as long as undertaken in line with published COVID-secure guidance. This includes personal training and sport coaching. Participants should adhere to social distancing when not actively participating (e.g. during breaks in play, or when awaiting substitutions).

In tier 3 areas: sports which involve high-risk elements (such as prolonged face proximity) may have to be modified to be played safely. This will include changes to limit contact activity for some sports such as rugby, in both training and matches. Other sports which involve close contact between participants, such as other team sports, can continue with matches as normal, but teams should minimise physical contact between participants during training sessions. National governing bodies of the relevant sports will set out guidance on the modifications needed to allow training and matches in tier 3 areas.

In tier 4 areas: you are allowed to leave your home to exercise outdoors in a public place - alone, with 1 other person, or within your household or bubble. You can only participate in organised outdoor sport if it is within these legal gathering limits. This does not apply to organised outdoor sport for people with disabilities, sport for educational purposes and supervised sport and physical activity for under-18s (including those who were under 18 on 31 August 2020), which can continue with any number of participants. More information on what is permitted in tier 4 areas can be found in the tier 4 section above.

Organised indoor sport

  • Organised indoor sport is not exempt from legal gathering limits.
  • In tier 1, 2 and 3 areas, organised indoor sport can only take place in line with the legal gathering limits for that tier.
  • In tier 4 areas, indoor sport facilities must close and organised indoor sport is not permitted (except for certain groups).

Participants should follow the guidance below and adhere to social distancing when not actively participating (e.g. during breaks in play, or when awaiting substitutions).

What this means

In tier 1 areas: organised indoor team sport can only take place in groups of up to 6 people (or larger groups if all from the same household or support bubble). Other organised indoor sport, including indoor exercise classes, personal training and sport coaching, can continue to take place with larger numbers present, provided that participants are in separate groups of up to 6 people which do not mix with other groups. This includes contact combat sports, but contact between participants is limited to pad work only.

The limits do not apply to people with disabilities, sport for educational purposes and supervised activities (including sport and physical activity) for under-18s, which can continue with any number of participants. This includes young people who were under 18 on 31 August 2020, even if they turn 18 during the remainder of the academic year.

In tier 2 areas: organised indoor sport (including team and individual sport, personal training and exercise classes), can only take place where there is no mixing between households. This means that people from the same household or support bubble can take part in sport or physical activity together. Individuals or separate households (or support bubbles) can participate in a single indoor sport activity (such as an exercise class) if they can stay separate and distinct from those from other households, and avoid physical contact and proximity (whether deliberate or inadvertent). Contact combat sports are not permitted unless socially distanced.

The limits do not apply to people with disabilities, sport for educational purposes and supervised activities (including sport and physical activity) for under-18s, which can continue with any number of participants. This includes young people who were under 18 on 31 August 2020, even if they turn 18 during the remainder of the academic year.

In tier 3 areas: people should not take part in any indoor sport or physical activity with people from outside their household. This includes indoor team and individual sports, training sessions and exercise classes. Personal training is permitted for 1:1 sessions only (unless all participants are from the same household or support bubble), and should not take place in private houses. Gyms and sport facilities will remain open, but group activities are not permitted (unless the group consists of a single household or bubble). Contact combat sports are not permitted unless socially distanced.

The limits do not apply to people with disabilities, sport for educational purposes and supervised activities (including sport and physical activity) for under-18s, which can continue with any number of participants. This includes young people who were under 18 on 31 August 2020, even if they turn 18 during the remainder of the academic year.

In tier 4 areas: people should not take part in any indoor sport or physical activity.

Organised indoor sport is only permitted where it is for educational purposes or supervised sport and physical activity for under-18s (including those who were under 18 on 31 August 2020) that enables parents/carers to work or seek work, or to participate in education. More information on what is permitted in tier 4 areas can be found in the tier 4 section above.

What this means

In tier 1 areas: this can only take place in groups of up to 6 people (or larger groups if from the same household or support bubble).

In tier 2 areas: this can take place in groups of up to 6 people (or larger groups from the same household or support bubble) outdoors, or within households or support bubbles indoors.

In tier 3 areas: this can only take place within households or support bubbles indoors and outdoors (except in some public outdoor places such as parks and sports facilities, where people can meet in groups of up to 6).

In tier 4 areas: this can only take place within households, support bubbles or with one other person from another household, in a public outdoor space. Informal indoor sport should not take place other than between members of the same household or support bubble. More information on what is permitted in tier 4 areas can be found in the tier 4 section above.

Organised sport participation events

Organised sport participation events such as races and organised walks can take place outdoors but must adhere to legal gathering limits and follow COVID-secure guidance (set out in guidance for the safe provision of grassroots sport.

What this means

In tier 1 and 2 areas: organised sport participation events can take place outdoors, but participants must not gather or participate in groups of more than 6 people (unless from the same household or support bubble), and should follow social distancing guidelines.

In tier 3 areas: organised sport participation events can take place outdoors, but only if participants do not mix with people from outside their household or support bubble (except in some public outdoor places, including outdoor sports grounds and facilities, where people can meet in groups of up to 6).

In tier 4 areas: organised sport participation events should not take place.

Social interaction

Social interaction before and after playing any sport should be extremely limited and only take place in line with legal gathering limits and other relevant restrictions. You should check the rules which apply to your local area.

Observing the rules during play but then disregarding them after (e.g. by socialising in breach of the wider restrictions) is unlawful, irresponsible and jeopardises both public health and the case for safe sport to continue.

National governing bodies are expected to remind participants of this and consider sanctions within the sport if not followed.

Sport facilities such as gyms/leisure centres

  • In tier 1, 2 and 3 areas: indoor and outdoor sport facilities such as gyms/leisure centres, courts and pitches can remain open, except indoor skating rinks which must close in tier 3 areas. However measures to control the infection rate may restrict the number of people who can gather, the activities that can take place, and the services that can be provided (such as food and drink sales). These are set out in the guidance for sport facility operators.

  • In tier 4 areas: outdoor sports and leisure facilities may stay open. This includes: outdoor sports courts, outdoor gyms, golf courses, outdoor swimming pools, archery/driving/shooting ranges, and playgrounds. Indoor arenas at riding centres must close, but outdoor elements of these venues may stay open. Usage of outdoor ice rinks should be limited to elite sports persons and professional dancers and their support staff for training and competition. Toilets can remain open but changing rooms should close except where it’s necessary to provide access to toilet facilities. Indoor sports facilities including gyms must close unless delivering sport for educational purposes or supervised sport and physical activity for under-18s (including those who were under 18 on 31 August 2020) that enables parents/carers to work or seek work, or to participate in education.

How to participate safely

Step 1 - Check for COVID-19 symptoms and health conditions

Before attending any sporting activities, all participants, officials, volunteers and spectators must self-assess for COVID-19 symptoms:

  • A high temperature

  • A new, continuous cough

  • A loss of, or change to, their sense of smell or taste

If you have one or more of these symptoms you should not attend any sporting activity, and must follow NHS and PHE guidance on self-isolation.

People with health conditions that put them at increased risk should consider the risks of participating in group activities like sport and physical activity.

Step 2 - Check if your sport is safe to play, and if there are modifications

Before participating in any sporting activity, you should check whether your sport is safe to play. Every sport’s national governing body should have published guidance on how to participate safely. You should ensure you are following the national governing body’s latest guidance, and follow any measures put in place by the sport provider or event organiser, even where this means modifications to the game.

In addition to this, team sports and contact combat sports (such as boxing, wrestling and martial arts) will need to have their action plans approved before they can resume contact activity (advice for sports on how to do this is set out in the guidance for safe provision of grassroots sport. The sports which have been approved will be listed at the bottom of that page. If you want to participate in a team sport or a contact combat sport, you should check they have received approval (the list is included in the guidance. If they are not listed, you should not participate in team sports in numbers above the legal gathering limits, or contact within combat sports in any number, until they have been approved.

Sports in which people primarily compete as individuals (such as tennis or golf) are not listed as they do not need to submit their action plans for approval, but you should ensure you are following the sport’s published guidance on how to participate safely.

Step 3 - Check if it is safe to travel

You should always follow best practice for travel, and aim to walk or cycle if possible. Where that is not possible, you can use public transport or drive, but should avoid travelling with someone from outside your household or support bubble unless you can practise social distancing. See the government’s guidance on safer travel for passengers, and car sharing, for further information.

There is additional guidance for tier 2, 3 and 4 areas, which affects those living in the areas as well as those who wish to travel into the areas to take part in sporting activities.

  • In tier 2 areas: you should aim to reduce the number of journeys you make, where possible.

  • In tier 3 areas: you are advised not to travel into or out of tier 3 areas, including for sport, unless this is necessary to enable individual exercise (or exercise for people from the same household or support bubble). Where this is necessary (for example to access a green space for a run or cycle), you should only travel a short distance and stay as local as possible. Travel is also permitted where it is necessary to enable sport for disabled people, sport for educational purposes, or supervised sport and physical activity for under-18s, to take place, but should still be minimised and kept to short distances only.

  • In tier 4 areas: you should not travel into or out of tier 4 areas, including for sport. You are allowed to leave your home to exercise outdoors. You should stay as local as possible, but can travel out of your local area if necessary (for example, to access an open space). If you need to travel, you should walk or cycle where possible, and follow guidance on safe travel.

Exemptions

  • Indoors (tiers 1, 2 and 3): the limits on organised indoor sport do not apply to people with disabilities, sport for educational purposes and supervised activities (including sport and physical activity) for under-18s, which can continue with any number of participants. This includes young people who were under 18 on 31 August 2020, even if they turn 18 during the remainder of the academic year.

  • Indoors (tier 4): organised indoor sport is only permitted where it is for educational purposes or supervised sport and physical activity for under-18s (including those who were under 18 on 31 August 2020) that enables parents/carers to work or seek work, or to participate in education.

  • **Outdoors (tier 4): limits on organised outdoor sport do not apply to people with disabilities, sport for educational purposes and supervised sport and physical activity for under-18s (including those who were under 18 on 31 August 2020), which can continue with any number of participants.

  • **Where exemptions apply to sport for the purpose of education, this means that school sport such as PE, and curriculum-related sport for students in further and higher education (e.g. a student studying a sport course being able to practice), are exempt from legal gathering limits. However, this does not cover extra-curricular sport (such as playing for a college team) so these activities can only take place within the guidance set out above.

Spectators

Supporters, parents, and other spectators must adhere to legal gathering limits whilst attending events.

What this means

  • tier 1: people can gather in groups of up to 6 (or larger groups if they are from the same household or support bubble) outdoors and indoors.

  • tier 2: people can gather in groups of up to 6 (or larger groups if they are from the same household or support bubble) outdoors. Indoors, people cannot mix with others from outside their household or support bubble.

  • tier 3: people cannot mix with others from outside their household or support bubble indoors. Outdoors, people cannot mix with others from outside their household or support bubble in a private garden or most public outdoor venues. However people can meet in groups of up to 6 in public outdoor spaces, including outdoor sport grounds and facilities.

    Spectators at outdoor sport grounds and facilities should be spaced evenly around the perimeter of the playing area, maintaining at least a 2m distance between groups, and should be no more than one row deep. For sports grounds with stands or fixed seating areas, spectators should also be spaced evenly around the perimeter of the playing area, rather than concentrated in the fixed seating area.

  • tier 4: spectators are not allowed unless they are adults where they are needed to supervise under-18s in a safeguarding role. Parents or other adults who are not required to fulfil a supervisory role are considered to be spectators, and must not attend. Where spectators are necessary, you should not mix with others from outside their household or support bubble.

It is important that spectators adhere to these limits; in addition to being legal requirements punishable by fines, those violating the measures are endangering public safety and undermining the case for safe sport to be allowed to take place.

If spectators do not follow these legal requirements, the club or provider can ask them to leave or not to attend again. Where there are serious or consistent issues with spectators, the sport’s national governing body may consider sanctions including suspending the relevant sport provider from running any leagues, matches, training sessions or other events or activities until this has been addressed.

There is an additional risk of infection where people are shouting or singing in close proximity to others (particularly indoors and when face-to face). Spectators should minimise shouting or raising their voices.

Match officials, medics and coaches

Match officials, medics and coaches should observe the relevant guidance in the same way as participants. Where legal gathering limits apply, people participating in a work or volunteering capacity (such as match officials, medics and coaches) are exempt and therefore not included in the number of participants. However, they must remain socially distanced from players where possible during play. Should match officials not be able to remain socially distanced due to their role in the sport, the sport’s national governing body or local provider should conduct a risk assessment to see if other mitigations may be necessary.

Match officials will be empowered to ensure that COVID-secure measures are adhered to, and to enforce this through appropriate sanctions set out by the sport’s national governing body.

Additional guidance for sport providers

Guidance and approval

All national governing bodies must undertake a risk assessment for their sport and publish guidance on how people can participate safely, including any modifications required to training or game-play. This should be updated when needed to reflect any relevant changes to measures such as tiers and gathering limits. This should be provided by your NGB or found on their website; you should check to ensure you are following the latest guidance and taking appropriate measures.

Sport providers must ensure they follow their NGB’s guidance and have the appropriate measures in place to offer their sport safely. Each provider should undertake their own risk assessment, including ensuring that operators, organisers and volunteers are aware of modifications to game-play or activity structure. They should also write their own action plan to be distributed to all relevant personnel, including coaches and welfare officers.

You should note that team sports and contact combat sports must have their plans approved before people can participate in them as organised sports. There is separate guidance for national governing bodies and other organisations on the processes they should go through to develop this guidance, which includes the team sport framework, contact combat sport framework, and guidance on delivering organised sport participation events (such as races and organised walking groups). Sports in which people primarily compete as individuals (such as tennis or golf) do not need to submit their action plans for approval.

NHS Test and Trace

Continued opening up of the economy and public services is reliant on NHS Test and Trace being used to minimise transmission of the virus. In order to ensure that businesses and local services are able to remain open, organisations in designated sectors must:

  • ask at least one member of every party of customers or visitors (up to 6 people) to provide their name and contact details

  • keep a record of all staff working on their premises and shift times on a given day and their contact details

  • keep these records of customers, visitors and staff for 21 days and provide data to NHS Test and Trace if requested

  • display an official NHS QR code poster, so that customers and visitors can ‘check in’ using this option as an alternative to providing their contact details

  • adhere to the General Data Protection Regulation

These duties apply to (among others) clubs providing team sport activities, indoor sport and leisure centres, outdoor swimming pools and lidos, sports and massage therapists, services provided for social and recreational purposes in youth and community centres, and village halls.

Your NGB’s guidance will set out the process you should follow to collect information, and you can check the guidance on maintaining records of staff, customers and visitors to support NHS Test and Trace.

Organising sporting activities

When planning a sporting activity, you should ensure that:

  1. Participants do not attend if they have any health conditions which would put them at increased risk.

  2. All participants and attendees (including players, officials, organisers, volunteers and spectators) are aware of COVID-19 symptoms and the need to self-assess before attending every sporting activity.

  3. Any participant or other attendee reporting symptoms does not attend and is directed to follow NHS and PHE guidance on self-isolation.

  4. Participants are aware of any increased risk associated with taking part in sporting activity, based on the national governing body’s guidance and risk assessment.

  5. Participants are 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.

  6. Participants continue to adhere to legal gathering limits before and after sporting activities, act responsibly and limit transmission risk wherever possible.

  7. Participants are aware that they are choosing to take part in the modified version of the game, including any relevant COVID-19 measures, and should comply with these measures as a condition of participation.

  8. You should also ensure you are adhering to important safety measures:

    – Ensure that spectators are following legal gathering limits and do not put the safety of participants at risk. 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-secure. They 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.
    – Ensure you are collecting information from participants, spectators and other attendees, which is detailed enough to allow NHS Test and Trace to contact them if necessary (as set out in the NHS Test and Trace section above). You should check your NGB’s guidance or see the maintaining records guidance for further information.
    – Ensure that all sessions comply with your NGB’s safeguarding policies and procedures, with particular consideration to children and young people, and vulnerable adults who may be less able to understand or maintain social distancing discipline.
    – All clubs running activities for under-18s should consult the Department for Education’s guidance on protective measures for out-of-school settings, which sets out further practical steps providers of community activities, holiday clubs, after-school clubs, tuition and other out-of-school provision for children should follow to minimise the risk of transmission for children attending their settings.

Sanctions for non-compliance

Sporting activities are permitted despite wider restrictions because of the benefits of sport and physical activity for people’s physical and mental wellbeing. If people act irresponsibly when participating in sport (including off the pitch, and when socialising before and after activity) they jeopardize public health and undermine the case for safe sport to take place.

National governing bodies should ensure that clubs / leagues / providers are running their activities safely, and should take action to address any issues, including putting in place additional measures or suspending players / teams / leagues / clubs which do not adhere to guidance.

If there are serious or consistent concerns with a particular sport which the NGB cannot or does not address, the NGB’s approval may be revoked so that the sport cannot take place.

Off-field activity

Sport providers should put in place measures to limit transmission risk from off-field activity, including:

  • Limiting the time spent congregating at a venue before and after activity. This could involve having strict meeting times or staggering start times, and advising participants to arrive in kit and ready to warm-up.

  • Minimising use of changing rooms and shower facilities. Changing rooms and shower facilities can be used, but participants must adhere to gathering limits while indoors, and maintain social distancing wherever possible. You should encourage participants to avoid or minimise use where possible (e.g. by arriving in kit and showering at home) and to minimise the time they spend in the changing area. Team talks/briefings and other gatherings should not take place in changing rooms under any circumstances. Access should be maintained for those with disabilities, and will be important for sports such as swimming, or outdoor sports in bad weather

  • Ensuring that participants maintain social distancing throughout warm-ups and when not on the field of play (e.g. awaiting substitutions) and limit higher-risk activities like spitting or shouting (particularly when facing each other).

  • Ensuring that participants adhere to legal gathering limits. Social interaction before and after playing any sport should only take place in separate and distinct groups consisting of up to 6 people (tier 1) or limited to people from the same household or support bubble (tiers 2 and 3). Exceptions may be made where safety and safeguarding measures require this, such as supporting participants with disabilities (though minimal time should be spent waiting or in changing rooms).

  • Avoiding equipment-sharing where possible. Teams should limit the number of players handling the same ball during warm-ups, and ensure the balls are frequently sanitised.

  • Advising participants to bring their own water bottles and ensure they are labelled or highly distinguishable. Water bottles or other refreshment containers should not be shared under any circumstances.

  • Advising participants to take their kit home to wash it themselves, rather than have one person handling a large quantity of soiled materials. Where kit absolutely has to be shared or kept together (for example last minute stand-in players, shortage of kit, or an essential club function), each person handling it must wash or sanitise their hands immediately after.

On-field activity

All sport providers must follow their national governing body’s guidance on how to participate safely in their sport. This includes any modifications to game-play required (e.g. limits on numbers for indoor activity, reducing physical contact or face-to-face exposure). Providers should also put in place additional mitigations to reduce unnecessary contact, such as removing pre-game handshakes, face-to-face interaction, and scoring celebrations.

Providers should ensure that participants remain socially distanced during breaks in play with spaced areas for equipment and refreshment storage, including officials and substitutes. Coaching staff and substitutes, should, for example, be spread out and avoid sharing a dugout or bench if social distancing cannot be observed.

Water bottles or other refreshment containers should not be shared under any circumstances.

Participants are advised to bring their own, in a labelled or highly distinguishable container. Participants should be asked to refrain from spitting or rinsing out their mouths on or around the playing area.

Sharing of equipment must be avoided where possible, particularly that used around the head and face, such as helmets. Where equipment is shared, equipment must be cleaned before use by another person. Sports where a ball needs to be handled by multiple players (e.g. basketball, cricket, football) must follow the measures put in place by their national governing body to reduce the transmission risk (e.g. pausing play to sanitise the ball at regular intervals).

Shouting and singing increase the risk of transmission, particularly in close proximity situations and when face-to-face. Coaches and substitutes should refrain from shouting, and those on the pitch should avoid it where possible.

Use of facilities

This guidance is aimed at sport providers who use facilities operated by others. Sport providers and participants can use clubhouses and hospitality facilities in line with government guidance on hospitality settings, and there is specific advice for sport facility operators, which includes rules on closure and additional measures for hospitality settings depending on the local alert rating. People using clubhouses and hospitality facilities must adhere to legal gathering limits and wider government guidance.

Where you are a sport provider and are also the facility operator (or there is no operator present - e.g. an outdoor pitch booking) you should follow the guidance for sport facility operators. That sets out information on how to operate an indoor or outdoor facility safely, such as one-way systems, use of changing rooms and toilets, and car parks.

In tier 4, toilets can remain open but changing rooms should close, except where it’s necessary to provide access to toilet facilities.

Injuries and emergencies

Injuries should still be treated, as participant safety is of the utmost importance. Physios and other medical personnel should take care to protect themselves and others through rigorous cleaning and personal hygiene, including increasing the frequency of cleaning and disinfecting equipment and surfaces. Wearing face coverings is recommended for both medics and patients, where this is possible and practical.

After contact with an injured participant, physios and other medical personnel should clean their 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 social distancing was maintained. They should also avoid touching their mouth, eyes and nose.

Physios and medical personnel should keep a record of each participant they have come into contact with, for test and trace purposes. Records should be kept for 21 days and then destroyed. Those working at a sport event should familiarise themselves with the guidance for first responders, in case of emergency situations.

Published 1 December 2020
Last updated 6 January 2021 + show all updates
  1. Updated guidance covering national restrictions in England from 6 January.

  2. Updated to include tier 4 areas.

  3. Update to clarify personal training in tier 3 and under-18 age limit exemptions.

  4. First published.