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Frequently asked questions about national coronavirus restrictions

On Monday 23 November, the Prime Minister announced that all areas of England would return to a tiered system of coronavirus (Covid-19) restrictions on Wednesday 2 December.

We’ll update this page to reflect what this means for sport and physical activity as soon as possible but the information below remains an accurate reflection what is and isn’t allowed as things stand.

The current restrictions have a significant impact on grassroots sport and physical activity with many facilities closing and limits placed on the number of people who can take part in sport and physical activity together.

We know these restrictions sparked some questions, so we've worked with the government to compile answers below to some of the most common ones.

Read the government's guidance

Outdoor exercise

  • Can 1:1 coaching/personal training sessions take place in a public outdoor space/garden?

    Yes, in a public outdoor space, so long as social distancing is maintained.

    Sessions can't take place in private gardens.

    Any sports coaches or trainers doing 1:1 sessions should ensure they’re complying with relevant national governing body safeguarding policies and procedures and conduct a thorough risk assessment before engaging in any sessions. This should include particular consideration for under-18s and vulnerable adults.

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  • Can personal trainers see multiple clients on the same day, as it’s their ‘work’?

    Yes, this is permitted within the restrictions.

  • Can 1:1 coaching/personal training sessions take place with multiple people from one household?

    No, as the regulations* state you can only meet/exercise with:

    • the people you live with (your household)
    • your support bubble
    • when on your own, one person from another household, i.e. the coach/personal trainer.

    *Children under the age of five, as well as disabled people dependent on round-the-clock care, aren’t counted towards the limit on two people meeting outside.

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  • Can I exercise on the waterways? For example, canoeing, paddle boarding, sailing on my own, or with my household/support bubble.

    Yes, so long as you’re doing so:

    • on your own
    • with the people you live with (your household)
    • your support bubble
    • on your own and with one person from another household – this could be a coach for 1:1 coaching.

    Children under the age of five, as well as disabled people dependent on round-the-clock care, aren’t counted towards the limit on two people meeting outside.

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  • Can I go fishing?

    Yes, so long as you’re doing so:

    • on your own
    • with the people you live with (your household)
    • your support bubble
    • on your own and with one person from another household.

    Children under the age of five, as well as disabled people dependent on round-the-clock care, aren’t counted towards the limit on two people meeting outside.

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  • Can I travel to take part in outdoor exercise?

    You should look to reduce the number of journeys you make. However, you can and should still travel to spend time or exercise outdoors – this should be done locally wherever possible, but you can travel to do so if necessary, for example, to access an open space.

  • Is there a limit to the amount of times I can exercise outdoors?

    There’s no limit on the amount of time spent exercising outdoors, or the amount of times per day you exercise outdoors.

Sports facilities

  • What facilities are required to close?

    Sport facilities must close during the national restrictions. This applies to all indoor and outdoor facilities

    This includes all leisure and sports facilities, such as leisure centres and gyms, swimming pools, tennis and basketball courts, golf courses, fitness and dance studios, climbing walls, archery, driving and shooting ranges, bowling alleys, skating rinks and go-karting venues are required to close. Outdoor basketball and tennis courts, outdoor gyms and skateparks must also close.

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  • What about playgrounds?

    Outdoor playgrounds can remain open.

  • Are public park facilities allowed to stay open?

    Outdoor public places will remain open, including parks, beaches, the countryside, public gardens and grounds, and outdoor playgrounds. 

    However all outdoor sport facilities (such as basketball and tennis courts, outdoor gyms and skateparks) must close.

  • Are private and outdoor pools also required to close if they only run 1:1 lessons?

    All outdoor sport facilities must close.

    Access to facilities can be provided where needed for

  • Can livery yards/stables remain open?

    Yes, to attend to the care of, or exercise of a pet or other animal owned or cared for, but must close to the public. 

    Animal welfare policy is held by DEFRA, and further guidance on animal care can be found on the government's website.  

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Exemptions

Elite sport

  • What's defined as elite sport?

    The definition of ‘elite sport’ can be found on the government website.

  • Can elite athletes train in their local facilities?

    Elite athletes will be able to train through their elite training centres. Other indoor and outdoor facilities will be able to provide access to facilities where needed for elite athletes to train.

    They can also open to be used by schools or providers for post-16 education or training, or for supervised activities for children which are necessary to enable parents to work, seek work, attend education or training, or respite care

    All elite training and competition must be delivered under the relevant elite sport guidance, which sets out the responsibilities on all parties involved - including the relevant sporting body/national governing body.

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Disabled people

  • Does the exemption for disabled people playing indoor team sports still apply?

    No, it no longer applies.

  • Are there any exemptions for disabled people who need support from a carer/personal assistant to exercise? For example, a visually impaired person needing a guide runner.

    Yes, disabled people dependent on round-the-clock care are not counted towards the limit on two people meeting outside, therefore can be supported by a carer(s)/personal assistant(s) while taking part in exercise. This can be in addition to people you live with (your household), a support bubble or one person from another household – this could be a coach for 1:1 coaching.

    Any sports coaches or trainers doing 1:1 sessions should ensure they’re complying with relevant national governing body safeguarding policies and procedures and conduct a thorough risk assessment before engaging in any sessions. This should include particular consideration for under-18s and vulnerable adults.

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Children's activities

  • Can schools continue to deliver physical education? Are there any restrictions in what they can deliver?

    Schools have the flexibility to decide how physical education, sport and physical activity will be provided while following the measures in their system of controls.

  • Can schools deliver after school clubs and/or use external coaches?

    Schools are able to work with external coaches, clubs and organisations for curricular activities where they’re satisfied that it’s safe to do so during school hours.

    Out-of-school activities, including wraparound care, may continue to operate if their primary purpose is providing registered childcare. They can also continue when offering other childcare activities, where this is reasonably necessary, to enable parents to:

    • work or search for work
    • undertake training or education.

    Schools should consider carefully how such arrangements can operate within their wider protective measures.

    More details can be found here.

    Competition between different schools shouldn’t take place, in line with the wider restrictions on grassroots sport.

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  • Can colleges deliver sport and physical activity?

    Sport and physical education as part of education and training can continue. Outdoor sports should be prioritised where possible, and large indoor spaces used where it’s not. Colleges should maximise distancing between consistent student groups and pay scrupulous attention to cleaning and hygiene and use maximum fresh air ventilation through either opening doors and windows or ventilation systems.

    Competition between different colleges shouldn’t take place, in line with the wider restrictions on grassroots sport.

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  • Do gyms and leisure facilities on educational sites have to close if they are specifically for their students?

    No, they can continue to be used where needed for elite athletes to train, curriculum sport, or for supervised activities for children which are necessary to enable parents to work, seek work, attend education or training, or respite care 

  • If sporting activity is part of an education course, will students be able to continue this activity in a Covid-secure manner during the scheduled in-person learning hours?

    If sporting activity is part of an educational course, it is permitted.  

  • Can schools go off site to a sports facility for curriculum activity?

    Yes. Access to facilities that would otherwise be closed can be provided where needed for elite athletes to train, or for use by schools or providers for post-16 education or training, or for supervised activities for children which are necessary to enable parents to work, seek work, attend education or training, or respite care.

  • Are school swimming pools allowed to remain open for use by the school’s pupils during the normal school day to deliver national curriculum swimming lessons?

    Yes, this is permitted within the restrictions.

Support groups

  • Can support groups deliver sport or physical activity?

    Permitted support groups - as defined in the regulations - can do physical activity or sport where it's a form of their support/therapy. However, this doesn't override the requirement for sport facilities to close.

    All indoor and outdoor sport facilities must close, except for limited exemptions which don't include support groups.

    Support groups can't meet in indoor or outdoor sport facilities, or do activities which require access to sport facilities, i.e. a group meeting in a community centre could do yoga during their meetings, but wouldn't be allowed to use a yoga studio in a gym or leisure centre.

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