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Return to play

There's a lot for sport and physical activity providers to consider as restrictions ease. We've got guidance on a range of topics to help you plan for the return to play.

The current rules

The government's roadmap for the easing of lockdown restrictions is made up of four steps, with Step 3 – which began on 17 May – now in force.

This means that:

  • Indoors: Gatherings of either six people (the ‘rule of six’) or two households can take place. Organised indoor adult and children sport and physical activity can return (including exercises classes) subject to sport-specific guidance. For organised indoor sport and physical activity, there’s no limit on group numbers so long as people adhere to capacity restrictions on indoor facilities. The maximum occupancy of each indoor facility should be limited by providing a minimum of 100 sq ft per person.
  • Outdoors: Up to 30 people can meet outdoors. Organised outdoor sport and physical activity can take place in any numbers, subject to sport-specific guidance.

Full information on the current rules, a definition of organised outdoor sport and physical activity, and what the next steps in the government's roadmap mean for sport and activity, are on our frequently asked questions page below.

You can also find out about the exemptions for elite sport, as well as information about travel, hospitality, spectators and changing rooms.

Your questions answered

Read the government's guidance

Helping people back into activity

With outdoor sport now allowed to reopen, we’ve compiled advice and ideas based on research we've been doing on people's attitudes, intentions and feelings on getting back out there.

These are the five key things people have told us will help them return to play.

Return to play: advice and ideas

Return to Play funds

We've opened three funds focusing on a safe return to play and narrowing the inequalities gap in sport and physical activity. Find out more and see if the funds can help you.

Return to Play Fund

A man working out on a treadmill.

Inclusion and accessibility

It's critical that the people who've been impacted the most by the nationwide restrictions are supported to get active as restrictions are eased.

We've compiled guidance on who can get active, how you can engage specific audiences, how to ensure your facilities remain accessible when they reopen, and more.

See our guidance

Latest research

We've collated new research on people's current attitudes to sport and physical activity.

It looks at the likelihood of people returning to their activity of choice when restrictions are eased, what might hold people back, and how activity providers can help encourage a return.

See our research

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Sport-specific guidance

We've created a hub to collate guidance published by national governing bodies, sport providers and the government, making it easier for you to find the latest information for a variety of sports and activities.

See the guidance hub

Legal support

Legal issues arising from coronavirus need to be taken into account by sport and physical activity providers in order to safely return to play.

This guidance note has been produced with Sheridans Sports Group to give providers, be they clubs, governing bodies, community groups or regional associations, advice on what issues need considering and how to tackle them.

We've also produced a second document, specifically on the issues arising from vaccinations and whether providers can stipulate participants must have been vaccinated.

Clubs toolkit

Club Matters has guidance to help sports clubs prepare for reopening, how to develop a risk register, tips to enforce social distancing, and more.

Click below to access the toolkit, and scroll down here for more guidance, including how to help your volunteers prepare, and hygiene tips.

Guidance for clubs on reopening

Support for the professional workforce

We've compiled support and guidance for people either employed or self-employed who work full-time or part-time in sport and physical activity - known as the professional workforce.

It includes advice on planning for the safe reopening of facilities and support from the government.

We'll add more useful resources as they become available, including training opportunities to help you to reopen or return to activity.

A group of volunteers talking to each other on a playing field.


Volunteers have a vital role to play as sport and physical activity providers plan for a return.

So what should you be thinking about when it comes to your volunteers returning safely and well-prepared? We've answered some of the main questions.

Read our volunteering guidance

Case studies

All sport and physical activity providers have had to prepare for the return to play, so we’ve spoken to a variety of types and sizes of organisation.

We asked them how they and their users have fared during the pandemic, what they’ve learned and how they’ve prepared for reopening. We’ll continue to add to this new return to play section of our case studies page as we speak to more providers.

Read the case studies

Hygiene guidance

Advice and guidance to help sport and physical activity facilities keep their environment safe for everyone, plus downloadable posters and stickers.

Hygiene advice and guidance

Other support and guidance

To help people, projects and organisations through this crisis, we've pulled together advice and resources from us and our partners.

These resources share best practice and have clear actions we hope will help you to work through this crisis, help to keep the nation active and try to plan for the future.

Tools and advice to help you now

1. Business advice

Whether you're a community club, a local authority or the chair of a large organisation, we've got guidance to help you deal with the coronavirus crisis.

2. Connecting with and supporting your community

With guidance and best practice tips from Twitter and YouTube, as well as our own campaign assets, you'll be able to keep in touch with your community and help to keep the nation active.

3. Maintaining facilities

With confusion over what qualifies as essential maintenance for facilities, we're working with trusted partners to help you understand how to maintain facilities appropriately during this time.

4. How to move your activity sessions online

With restrictions on what can open, many are turning to the internet to help them get active - we've got free advice on how to live stream exercise classes.

Tools to help you now

Prepare and adapt for the future

1. Understand the effect on activity levels

What impact is the coronavirus crisis having on people's activity habits and motivations? We've commissioned weekly surveys to help you understand just that.

2. Develop your skills

The future is still uncertain, but we've collated advice from experts on how to develop your skill-set to help cope with whatever the future might bring.

3. Getting ready for re-start

As restrictions begin to lift and organisations begin to start thinking about starting up activity again, we're providing guidance on how to go about doing it.

4. Local authorities and service providers

We’ve heard from local authorities and leisure providers the need for additional support and we wish to proactively offer specialist consultancy to help. 

Prepare and adapt

In addition to the advice and guidance we've collated above, our trusted partners are also providing news and assistance to their members.

Below you'll find links to the latest information and updates curated by our partners.

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