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Frequently asked questions on the national lockdown restrictions

On Monday 4 January, the Prime Minister announced a new national lockdown to counter the steep rise in coronavirus (Covid-19) infections in England.

The government has now announced their plans for the easing of lockdown restrictions and more information on how this affects sport and physical activity can be found here.

The below guidance should be followed until restrictions are eased.

We've worked with government to answer the most common questions relating to the lockdown restrictions and what they mean for sport and physical activity - these can be found below.

But put simply, the lockdown means you should minimise time spent outside your home.

It's against the law to meet socially with family or friends unless they're part of your household or support bubble. You can only leave your home to exercise, and not for the purpose of recreation or leisure (e.g. a picnic or a social meeting). This should be limited to once per day, and you shouldn't travel outside your local area.

You can exercise in a public outdoor place:

  • by yourself
  • with the people you live with
  • with your support bubble (if you're legally permitted to form one)
  • in a childcare bubble where providing childcare
  • or, when on your own, with one person from another household (going for a walk with someone counts as exercise).

Public outdoor places include:

  • parks, beaches, countryside accessible to the public, forests
  • public gardens (whether or not you pay to enter them)
  • the grounds of a heritage site
  • playgrounds.

Outdoor sports venues, including tennis courts, golf courses and swimming pools, must close.

There are, however, two exemptions to the national lockdown restrictions for sport and activity:

  • Organised outdoor sport for disabled people is allowed to continue.  
  • Elite sportspeople (and their coaches if necessary, or parents/guardians if they are under 18) - or those on an official elite sports pathway - are allowed to meet in larger groups, to compete and train.

Read the government's guidance

Travel

  • Can I travel to take part in outdoor exercise?

    You mustn’t leave your home unless for one of the reasons set out in the government guidance. If you need to travel you should stay local – meaning avoiding travelling outside of your village, town or the part of a city where you live – and look to reduce the number of journeys you make overall. 

    The list of reasons you can leave your home and area include, but are not limited to: 

    • work, where you cannot reasonably work from home 
    • outdoor exercise. This should be done locally wherever possible, but you can travel a short distance within your area to do so if necessary (for example, to access an open space) 
    • attending the care and exercise of an animal, or veterinary services.
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Outdoor exercise

  • What can I do?

    It’s against the law to meet socially with family or friends unless they are part of your household or support bubble. You can only leave your home to exercise, and not for the purpose of recreation or leisure (e.g. a picnic or a social meeting). 

    This should be limited to once per day, and you shouldn’t travel outside your local area – avoiding travelling outside of your village, town or the part of a city where you live – and look to reduce the number of journeys you make overall. 

    You can exercise in a public outdoor place:

    • by yourself
    • with the people you live with
    • with your support bubble (if you’re legally permitted to form one)
    • in a childcare bubble where providing childcare
    • when on your own, with one person from another household while following social distancing.

    Children under five, and up to two carers for a disabled person needing continuous care, aren’t counted towards the gatherings limits for exercising outside.

    Public outdoor places include:

    • parks, beaches, countryside accessible to the public, forests
    • public gardens (whether or not you pay to enter them)
    • the grounds of a heritage site
    • playgrounds.
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  • If I exercise with one other person from another household in a public park, can we use shared equipment?

    No, shared equipment can’t be used with somebody not from your household, and social distancing must always be maintained.

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

    Yes, as long as you’re doing so:

    • by yourself 
    • with the people you live with 
    • with your support bubble (​if you’re legally permitted to form one) 
    • in a childcare bubble where providing childcare 
    • when on your own, with one person from another household while following social distancing.

    Children under five, and up to two carers for a disabled person needing continuous care, aren’t counted towards the gatherings limits for exercising outside.

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

    Yes, this should be limited to once per day, and you shouldn’t travel outside your local area to do so.

  • Can I go fishing?

    Yes, as long as you are doing so:

    • by yourself 
    • with the people you live with 
    • with your support bubble (​if you’re legally permitted to form one) 
    • in a childcare bubble where providing childcare 
    • when on your own, with one person from another household while following social distancing.

    In connection to wider government guidance:

    • You shouldn’t travel outside of your local area in order to go fishing
    • Organised events or competitions can’t take place
    • You should only go fishing once per day.
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  • Can I take part in a coaching/personal training (PT) session in a public outdoor space/garden?

    Personal training/coaching can continue one-on-one.

    Sessions must take place in a public outdoor spaces, as long as social distancing is maintained. Sessions can’t take place in private gardens.

    Any coaches or trainers undertaking 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.

    Public outdoor places include: 

    • parks, beaches, countryside accessible to the public, forests 
    • public gardens (whether or not you pay to enter them) 
    • the grounds of a heritage site 
    • playgrounds.
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  • Can a coach/personal trainer see multiple clients on the same day?

    Yes, as the coach/PT would be in attendance for work purposes. Social distancing must be always maintained and clients shouldn’t overlap with one another.

Sports facilities

  • What facilities are required to close?

    Sport facilities must close during the national restrictions.

    This applies to all indoor and outdoor sports facilities and includes; indoor gyms, leisure centres, swimming pools (indoor and outdoor), sports courts, fitness and dance studios, climbing walls, outdoor sports courts, outdoor gyms, skateparks, golf courses, archery/driving/shooting ranges and riding arenas at riding centres.  

    Plus; entertainment venues such as theatres, concert halls, cinemas, museums and galleries, casinos, amusement arcades, bingo halls, bowling alleys, skating rinks, go-karting venues, indoor play and soft play centres and areas (including inflatable parks and trampolining centres), circuses, fairgrounds, funfairs, water parks and theme parks.  

    Indoor attractions at venues such as botanical gardens, heritage homes and landmarks must also close, though outdoor grounds of these premises can stay open for outdoor exercise.

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  • What about outdoor playgrounds?

    Outdoor playgrounds can stay open. However, when around other people, individuals should stay two metres apart from anyone not in their household – meaning the people they live with – or their support bubble. Also ensuring hands are sanitised regularly.

  • Are public park facilities allowed to stay open?

    Outdoor public places will continue to stay open. However, all outdoor sport facilities must close.

    Public outdoor places include: 

    • parks, beaches, countryside accessible to the public, forests 
    • public gardens (whether or not you pay to enter them) 
    • the grounds of a heritage site 
    • playgrounds.

    Car parks and public toilets are allowed to stay open.

  • Do accredited open water venues need to close?

    Yes. All outdoor sport facilities must close.

  • Can livery yards/stables stay open?

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

  • Can people travel to use a private outdoor arena to exercise their own horse?

    All outdoor facilities have to close, which includes riding arenas at riding centres.

    However, you can leave home for animal welfare reasons, such as to attend veterinary services for advice or treatment, and to attend the care and exercise of an animal. 

    Animal welfare policy is held by DEFRA, and further guidance on animal care can be found here.

  • Are people able to collect equipment from facilities to enable individual exercise? (E.g. boathouses.)

    Yes, personal equipment belonging to an individual should be made accessible. However, the facility must be closed for public use, and mustn’t be used to hire out equipment.

Exemptions - elite sport

  • What's defined as elite sport?

    The definition of ‘elite sport’ is as defined on the government website.

  • Where can elite athletes train?

    Elite athletes will be able to train through their elite training centres. Other indoor and outdoor facilities will be able to provide access where needed for elite athletes to train, as long as specific elite sport guidance can be followed.

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

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Exemptions - disabled people

  • Organised outdoor sport for disabled people is allowed to continue

    ‘Organised sport’ refers to sport which is formally organised by a national governing body, club, public body, qualified instructor, company or charity, and which follows the relevant sport’s national governing body guidance.

  • Why are disabled people exempt from the restrictions?

    Not allowing organised outdoor sport would have a disproportionate impact on disabled people.

    We know disabled people face more barriers to taking part in sport and physical activity, so it's vital we do as much as possible to keep these opportunities accessible.

  • What activities can disabled people participate in?

    Organised outdoor sport can only take place where it follows the government's guidance on recreational team sport and grassroots sport and leisure activity. This also includes group activities, such as organised walks.

    National governing bodies providing sport formats for disabled people will set out how they can deliver this provision in line with existing guidance on social distancing and Covid-secure measures.

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  • Does this exemption put disabled people at an increased risk of contracting coronavirus?

    Organised outdoor sport can only take place where it follows the government's guidance on recreational team sport and grassroots sport and leisure activity.

    National governing bodies providing sport formats for disabled people will set out how they can deliver this provision in line with existing guidance on social distancing and Covid-secure measures. 

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  • What are the numbers of disabled people that can take part outside together?

    There is no limit on numbers, however government guidance on organised outdoor sport must be followed.

  • Does the exemption include disabled children under the age of 18?

    Yes.

  • Can non-disabled people take part in organised outdoor sport alongside disabled people?

    No. This exemption only applies to disabled people and any other people necessary to enable the sport to take place e.g. a carer or coach helping the disabled person to participate.

  • Where disabled people need support from a carer or personal assistant during activity, will this be allowed? E.g. a visually impaired person needing a guide runner.

    Yes. People who provide essential support (e.g. carers) to disabled people are exempt, and don’t count towards gathering limits. Therefore, disabled participants can be supported by a carer(s)/personal assistant(s) while taking part in exercise. This can be in addition to others from your household, support bubble or one person from another household – this could be a coach. 

    Up to two carers for a disabled person, needing continuous care, aren’t counted towards the gatherings limit on two or more people exercising outside.

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  • Do I need to maintain social distancing if I'm working with a disabled person who needs support?

    Social distancing should be maintained where possible, but in some circumstances people will need physical assistance to be active. It’s important you discuss this with the person to consider their needs and preferences. 

    Any sports coaches or trainers undertaking one-to-one 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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Exemptions - under-18s and education settings

  • What do the new restrictions mean for under-18s?

    Exemptions for under-18s activities have changed within the new restrictions, and are now limited to only include education settings, registered childcare and supervised activities for children.

    There are circumstances in which you’re allowed to meet others from outside your household, childcare or support bubble in larger groups, but this shouldn’t be for socialising and only for permitted purposes, which includes where eligible to use services for:

    • education (also see education exemption) – relative to those who can access schools or educational settings (children of critical worker and vulnerable children) – further guidance can be found here
    • registered childcare – guidance for registered childcare for under-fives should be followed. There’ll be occasions when visits to the setting are necessary, but settings are encouraged to avoid visitors entering their premises, wherever possible. Visits that allow a vulnerable child to meet a social worker, key worker or other necessary support should continue on site. Visits for SEND therapies should also continue on site.
    • supervised activities for children – only applicable for children of critical workers and vulnerable children where it’s reasonably necessary to enable the parent/guardian to:
      • search for work
      • undertake training or education
      • attend a medical appointment or address a medical need.

    This means under-18s community sport activity, including team sports (indoor and outdoor) is no longer exempt, and under-18s, that aren’t covered in the permitted purposes above, will need to follow current national guidance on legal gatherings.

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  • Can schools continue to deliver PE to those attending on site provision and 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 to those children eligible to attend school (i.e. children of critical workers and vulnerable children and young people).

    Schools can hold PE lessons indoors, including those that involve activities related to team sports, for example practising specific techniques, within their own system of controls. However, outdoor activities and sports should be prioritised where possible, and large indoor spaces used where it isn’t, maximising natural ventilation flows (through opening windows and doors or using air conditioning systems wherever possible) distancing between pupils and paying scrupulous attention to cleaning and hygiene. This is particularly important in a sport setting because of the way in which people breathe during exercise.

    Activities such as active miles, making break times and lessons active and encouraging active travel help to enable pupils to be physically active while encouraging physical distancing.

    Further Department for Education guidance can be found here.

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  • Can schools deliver before and after school clubs?

    Schools should continue to offer wraparound provision, such as breakfast and afterschool clubs, for those children eligible to attend school (i.e. children of critical workers and vulnerable children and young people) and where it’s feasible for them to do so. 

    Schools should also work closely with any external wraparound providers which these pupils may use to ensure, as far as possible, children can be kept in a group with other children from the same bubble they’re in during the school day.

    Schools can consult the guidance produced for providers who run community activities, holiday clubs, after-school clubs, tuition and other out-of-school provision for children, to advise on the protective measures providers should put in place for the duration of the national lockdown to ensure they’re operating as safely as possible.

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  • 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 use by schools or providers for post-16 education or training for those pupils eligible to attend for on-site provision.

    However, this will be at the discretion of the facility/venue whether they’re able to open their facility.

  • Can schools continue to open and hire out their premises for use by external wraparound care providers?

    Schools may continue to open or hire out their premises for use by external wraparound childcare providers, such as after-school or holiday clubs, that offer provision to children of critical workers and/or vulnerable children. In doing so, schools should ensure they work with providers to consider how they can operate within their wider protective measures and should also have regard to any other relevant government guidance.

Maintenance work

  • Can volunteers continue to carry out essential maintenance work to green spaces?

    Yes. Individuals can leave home to provide voluntary or charitable services.

    You can volunteer in green spaces, as per the wider government guidance on legal gathering limits, subject to social distancing and risk assessment. Group volunteering isn’t permitted unless it’s part of a permitted support group as set out in the guidance.

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