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Hygiene for sport and physical activity

How we can stop the spread of coronavirus and keep our environment safe for everyone.

Introduction

We all have a role to play in making sure our return to sport and physical activity is as safe as possible.

Whether you’re a player, coach, spectator, employee or volunteer, it’s vital we all take sensible measures to maintain good hygiene – now more than ever.

This page has been updated to include the latest government advice on how we can help stop the spread of coronavirus, and includes measures such as social distancing and best practice for cleaning equipment.

It also includes general good practice, and outlines things we should already have been doing before the pandemic.

The advice has been developed to help organisations implement good hygiene across their facilities simply and effectively, no matter the activity, sport or venue.

It's been developed with the Advanced Wellbeing Research Centre, the National Centre for Sport & Exercise Medicine, and The Centre for Behavioural Science and Applied Psychology at Sheffield Hallam University.

We’ve produced several resources to help you clearly communicate the key hygiene messages outlined on this page to people taking part in sport and physical activity.

A man cleans his hands before playing sport

Why it matters

Good hygiene practice, by organisations and individuals, will be essential in stopping the spread of coronavirus and will allow us to take part in the sport and physical activity we love. 

Everyone involved in sport and physical activity, including those involved in maintaining and working on courts, pitches and sports facilities, has a part to play and it's vital we all understand how we can contribute. 

Failure to follow good hygiene practice may lead to an increase in the number of people contracting coronavirus, which in turn could result in a return to a more restrictive lockdown, preventing people taking part in many forms of physical activity.

 

Keeping a clean and healthy environment

To ensure hygienic and safe surroundings for people taking part in physical activity, it’s important activity providers follow this guidance and encourage people taking part to do the same.

Maintain social distancing

Even though the lockdown has been partly relaxed, it's still essential people maintain social distancing while playing sport or taking part in physical activity.

This means they should, where possible, stay at least two metres from another person who is not part of their household while exercising. Where it's not possible, they must stay at least one metre apart with appropriate mitigations put in place. Mitigations can include things like being outside and wearing face coverings. 

Exercising or playing sport in groups is currently limited to six people, or two households, in England. This must take place outside, except for two families who can exercise together in a private home. 

Certain team sports may be exempt from this restriction if they have a plan in place that has been agreed by the government. Please check with the relevant national governing body before taking part in or organising this activity.

It’s also essential people stay at home if they feel unwell to prevent the spread of the virus.

Changing rooms

Indoor facilities, apart from toilets and access-routes, should be kept closed. Gyms and indoor swimming pools can open from 25 July. 

When accessing and leaving facilities, people should wipe down areas of contact, wash their hands thoroughly and use paper towels where possible and avoid touching any surfaces in transit.

Ensure clean hands and avoid touching your face

Hand washing for at least 20 seconds, and showering at home before and after physical activity, is crucial for good hygiene – please encourage all those taking part to do so.

People are less likely to wash their hands if the only running water available is cold, so make sure warm water and antibacterial hand soap are easily accessible to anybody taking part in physical activity. In instances where hot and cold water is not available, hand sanitisers should be used as an alternative

‘Topping up’ soap dispensers can harbour bacteria, so you should wait until a soap dispenser is empty to refill it.

Provide disposable towels rather than multi-use where possible.

People should also avoid touching their face. To help people with this, encourage a message of keeping hands below shoulder level where possible.

Cover coughs and sneezes

People should cover their mouth and nose with a tissue or bent elbow when coughing or sneezing.

They should immediately dispose of used tissues in a bin and wash their hands for 20 seconds or clean them with hand sanitiser.

Ensure clean surfaces and equipment

You must make sure that any equipment provided as part of your activity is cleaned frequently with the appropriate products, such as disinfectant wipes.

Shared equipment provided by the venue or organisation must be washed thoroughly after each use.

You should encourage people to remove any loose material (e.g. sand, turf, rubber-crumb, clay) from shoes, clothes, and equipment after taking part in physical activity outdoors before entering any building.

Avoid sharing equipment

People should not touch other people’s personal items such as towels, water bottles, or mobile phones, and this includes personal sports equipment such as tennis rackets.

If they've used a piece of shared equipment, then you should make sure the equipment is cleaned with disinfectant immediately after use.

While groups are allowed to practice ball skills like passing and kicking, equipment sharing should be kept to a minimum and good hand hygiene practices should be in place before and after. 

Clean and cover wounds

It’s important that any cuts or abrasions are cleaned and covered at the earliest opportunity, to prevent entry of debris or dirt that can cause infection

Keep your first aid kit easily accessible and stocked with a good supply of plasters to ensure a speedy response when a wound occurs during activity.

Promoting hygiene messages

We’ve produced several resources to help you clearly communicate the key hygiene messages outlined on this page to people taking part in sport and physical activity. 

Posters

A range of PDFs available to download and print for use in venues.

Stickers

A series of stickers you can download and print (at home or via a third party supplier) to attach to the floor to reinforce social distancing rules. 

Social media assets

A suite of images for social media, and these are available in the correct dimensions for Twitter, Facebook, Instagram and Snapchat.

TV and digital screen content

An animation with key messages displayed in sequence on screens at your organisation (and online as required) is also available.

Training and coaching

Further to the display of posters, imagery and digital content, these messages and materials should also be incorporated into training, coaching and briefing activities.

It’s important to ensure that staff and volunteers at your organisation and throughout your network, no matter what their role, have a thorough understanding of the good hygiene guidance, and can confidently advise others through their work.

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