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Coronavirus: what happens next?

We've worked with the government to help answer some of the key questions people in the sport and physical activity sector will have as it eases some of its lockdown restrictions.

We’ll continue to update this page as the government issues more information.

Current guidance

People can go outside more than once a day for exercise in groups of up to six people, as long as people from different households observe social distancing by keeping two metres apart, wherever possible.

Where it's not possible, they should stay at least one metre apart and use appropriate mitigations, such as wearing face masks, facing in the same direction and not shouting.

Done responsibly and safely, this is good news for grassroots sport and physical activity.

It enables people to get together in small groups to do things like walking and cycling, take part in fitness or conditioning sessions with friends or team mates, including with a personal trainer or coach, and allows people who need someone with them when they have a 1-2-1 session to access activity, for example someone who might need a carer. 

All of this must be done safely and responsibly, and if someone is planning to exercise or take part in some activity in a small group, they should familiarise themselves with all the government guidance around social distancing and hygiene, in particular.

Facilities and team sports

Most outdoor and indoor sport and physical activity facilities can reopen if those responsible for them feel ready to do so and if they can do so safely.

Outdoor facilities that can open include basketball and tennis courts, playing spaces like golf courses (public and private), playing fields, watersports, outdoor gyms, outdoor pools and playgrounds.

Indoor facilities such as gyms, leisure centres and pools can also now reopen, provided operators follow government guidelines.

Each venue, including council-owned sports facilities, should make their own decisions about when their facilities are ready.

Team sports can also restart when each sport's national governing body has published a government-approved action plan and related guidance on playing safely.

Please note, participants and activity providers should be aware of local restrictions as these may differ from national guidance.

Group sizes

While social gatherings of more than six people will be banned in England from 14 September, the government’s confirmed that organised sports and activities that have been through return to play protocols can continue, as can organised outdoor sports and physical activity events such as parkrun, which is due to return next month.

People can also continue to use leisure facilities, including gyms and pools - classes within these venues can continue as they are now. People should not go to these venues socially in groups of more than six.

That's because these sports and activities have stringent plans in place to reduce the risk of Covid-19, and because these venues are classed as Covid-secure given the measures they’ve introduced.

Government guidance

The government's compiled detailed guidance on the reopening of indoor and outdoor sports facilities; a framework for the return of team sport; keeping facilities and equipment clean; keeping staff and customers safe; what to do about restaurants, changing rooms and car parks; and more.

Government guidance on facilities and equipment

Frequently asked questions

With indoor sport and physical activity facilities now able to reopen, and news on the return of team sports, we've compiled answers to some of the most common questions.

Your questions answered

The next steps

The reopening of some outdoor sports facilities has paved the way for many other clubs and organisations to start detailed planning and preparation ahead of the wider reopening of sport and physical activity, which began on 25 July.

We want to do everything possible to help community sport return safely and responsibly. 

We’re liaising with the government to help their work in devising guidance and support for the sector and have created some 'return to play' resources to help clubs and organisations to get ready. 

This suite of tools, which we'll continue to be updated as further guidance is provided by the government and public health authorities – includes simple checklists, expert hygiene advice and links to best practice.

See our return to play resources

Why we must get this right

We’re emerging from lockdown as a nation of people who understand better than ever before the benefits that sport and activity can bring to mental and physical wellbeing,

Thanks to the government placing exercise at the heart of its priorities throughout lockdown, national values are being reformed around activity. Exercise has been redefined as a necessity, rather than a recreational choice or luxury and most adults are now telling us that they think being active is more important than before and are using it to stay physically and mentally healthy.

In order to gain maximum benefit from this momentum, we need to ensure that the next phase of the reopening is well coordinated and is not just focused on getting something back up and running, but is genuinely Inclusive. 

Our insight tells us that in the midst of coping with our changing circumstances, many people are doing more activity, and experiencing different activities than usual, but alongside this, many others are doing less. We can already see that older people, women, people on low incomes, living in urban areas or living alone, are finding it harder to be active during the outbreak.

Working together, we have an opportunity to reframe grassroots and community sport and activity as something genuinely for everyone and to support those involved with delivery to get it right from the off.

Principles to help return to play

These three principles have been published by the government 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 maintain a safe two metre distance, that good hygiene practices are in place, that equipment is disinfected regularly, and that it's clear that anyone who's symptomatic or suspects they've been exposed to the virus does not take part and remains at home.

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  • Communicating clearly and consistently

    Organisations will need to communicate clearly and regularly with members and participants setting out what they're doing to manage risk, and what advice they're giving to individuals to do likewise.

    Ideally, organisations should publish an action plan detailing their plans to reopen safely and the steps they're 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's 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.

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  • Flexibility and innovation

    Any measures organisations can put in place to enable an activity to return needs to be capable of being adapted to follow government guidelines on social distancing. e.g. strengthening or relaxing measures at short notice. Organisations are encouraged to think creatively about how best to make their sport or activity possible within the guidelines.

    The limit on gatherings - no more than two, unless members of the same household - means that it's unlikely to be possible to organise amateur events or competitions at this time.

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