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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

Every part of England is now in one of three Covid-19 alert levels: Tier 1 (medium), Tier 2 (high) and Tier 3 (very high). Here’s a summary of what this mean for sport and physical activity:

Tier 1 (medium)

National restrictions, introduced from 24 September, continue to apply.


Organised individual and team sports that have been through return to play protocols can continue, while adhering to the 'rule of six', which means playing in a group of no more than six people.

There are exemptions to this: under-18s, disabled people and, if for educational purposes, over-18s, can play in any number.

Other indoor activity, such as exercise classes, can continue in larger numbers based on the size of the venue, provided that people are in separate groups of up to six people and socially distance, or larger groups if they’re from the same household or support bubble, which do not mix.

Gyms and leisure facilities can stay open, and the ‘rule of six’ applies to informal activity.


National governing body-approved organised team sport, exercise classes and outdoor licensed physical activity and sport participation events can happen in any number provided they're in line with Covid-secure guidance.

The ‘rule of six’ applies to informal sport.

Tier 2 (high)


Organised individual and team sport must be played by a single household or support bubble.

Exemptions laid out in Tier 1 on specific groups of people who can play in larger numbers continue to apply.

Exercise classes can also continue as per the rules under Tier 1, while informal sport can only be played indoors by a single household or support bubble.

Gyms and leisure facilities can stay open.


There's no change to the guidance for outdoor sport and physical activity – the Tier 1 rules still apply.

Tier 3 (very high)

Guidance under this tier is subject to change, depending on local and national government agreements.


Sport and physical activity can be played as per the guidance under Tier 2.

Gyms and leisure facilities may have to close depending on local approaches to business closures.


Sport and physical activity can be played as per the guidance under Tier 1.

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 the introduction of Covid-19 alert levels, and rules around what sport and physical activity can be played indoors and outdoors and how, plus what this means for facilities, 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’ve emerged from the spring 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 as we reopen, this is done in a well coordinated way 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 as part of the 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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