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Return to play

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

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 new national lockdown is in place as of Wednesday 6 January, to counter the steep rise in coronavirus (Covid-19) infections in England, with strict restrictions in place governing what can and can't be done.

Below, we've outlined the new guidance and provided answers to your specific questions regarding what is and isn't allowed.

We've also compiled a set of resources that can still be used to help plan for a safe return to play, when restrictions begin to ease.

Current guidance

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.

Frequently asked questions

With a national lockdown in place, we've compiled answers to some of your most common questions on what this mean for sport and physical activity.

Your questions answered

Government guidance

With a national lockdown in place, the government's compiled detailed guidance of what can and can't be done for exercise under these restrictions.

Read the government's guidance

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 now another lockdown has been implemented.

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 once restrictions are eased, what might hold people back, and how activity providers can help encourage a return.

See our research

A women enjoys a casual game of tennis in the park

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.

A man and a woman plan a cycling session in the winter

Winter Activity Toolkit

We’ve produced a toolkit to help you keep sport and physical activity going over the next few months.  

It’s packed with advice, guidance and insight to support you to encourage participation in line with the latest government guidelines. 

Find out more

Clubs toolkit

Club Matters has guidance to help sports clubs prepare for reopening, when possible, 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.

Volunteering

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

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 and how often people can go out, 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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