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'Rule of six' to be applied to adult indoor team sports

With new coronavirus-related restrictions for sport announced, we've compiled answers on what is and isn't allowed.

23rd September 2020

Following yesterday’s announcement on new rules for adults playing team sports indoors, we’ve pulled together answers to some of the key questions.

With coronavirus cases increasing, from tomorrow (Thursday) non-disabled people aged 18 and over will need to adhere to the ‘rule of six’ if they’re playing team sports indoors – this means playing in a group of no more than six people.

Team sports that have already had guidance approved by the government for the safe playing of their sport can continue to use that guidance, provided they now limit the number of people aged 18 and over playing indoors to six.

Three women playing netball in an indoor sports hall.

We’ve collated answers to some common questions at the bottom of this page, but below is a summary of what can continue: 

  • Indoor team sports involving children aged under 18, played formally and under government-approved guidance
  • Indoor team sports involving disabled adults aged 18 and over, played formally and under government-approved guidance, including groups of more than six following social distancing (more details are at the bottom of this page)
  • Use of indoor sport and leisure facilities, including gyms and swimming pools
  • Organised indoor activities or exercise classes (these can take place in larger numbers, provided groups of more than six do not mix and the facility meets the government’s indoor facility guidance)
  • Outdoor sports played formally and under government-approved guidance
  • Outdoor sport and physical activity events following event-organiser guidance
  • Informal indoor or outdoor sport and physical activity in groups of six or fewer while social distancing and following government guidance, and guidance from the sport’s governing body.

We also know yesterday’s announcements will be difficult for elite sport, particularly not being able to welcome crowds back to sporting events, and we welcome news that the government is speaking directly to all those affected to support the challenges this unprecedented period continues to bring.

We're involved in these discussions between the government and a number of sporting organisations on their financial challenges, and we're also supporting leisure operators in their conversations with the government about possible financial support.

Your questions answered

  • When will the new restrictions come into force?

    These changes come into force from Thursday 24 September.

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  • Are governing bodies required to have their return to play guidance reviewed by the government to cover indoor sport for six or fewer adults?

    No, sports that have already had guidance approved should continue to use this, while adhering to the ‘rule of six’.

    The outdoor team sports to have already had their guidelines approved by the government can be found here.

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  • What is the definition of a child/adult?

    Guidance is that those aged 18 and over must adhere to the ‘rule of six’ when playing team sports indoors. The rule does not apply to children aged under 18.

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  • Are team sports played in water/indoor settings other than a sports hall, classed as indoor team sports?

    Yes. Therefore they must be played in groups of six or fewer.

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  • Do adults from different households taking part in indoor team sports have to social distance while adhering to the 'rule of six'?

    No, providing it’s being played formally and under government-approved national governing body guidance.

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Exemption for disabled people

  • Why are disabled people exempt from the restrictions around indoor team sports for adults?

    The exemption is to help disabled people to stay active.

    Not allowing indoor sport would have a disproportionate impact on disabled people, as a significant proportion of team sport for disabled people takes place in indoor settings.

    We know that 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.

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  • Does this exemption put disabled people at an increased risk of contracting Covid-19?

    Indoor team sport can only take place where it follows the government's guidance on recreational team sport and grassroots sport and leisure activity, and this includes team sports for disabled people.

    National governing bodies which provide 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.

    The exemption only affects the number of people who can be involved in the sport where this is necessary for the sport to take place.

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  • How can participants be reassured that an indoor team sport activity for more than six disabled people will be delivered in a socially distanced Covid-19-secure environment?

    All sport providers and venue operators are already operating in line with the government's guidance on recreational team sport and grassroots sport and leisure activity.

    Together with the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport, we'll work with national governing bodies which provide indoor team sport to ensure their current guidance reflects the ‘rule of six’ restrictions or is updated, if needed, to set out that more than six disabled people can take part in team sport in a safe way which encourages social distancing.

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  • Can non-disabled people take part in indoor team sports alongside disabled people?

    The exemption only applies to disabled people.

    If non-disabled people take part in indoor team sport, this exemption no longer applies.

    Indoor team sports which include non-disabled people taking part alongside disabled people should only take place in groups of up to six people.

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  • Where disabled people need support from a carer or personal assistant during activity, will this be allowed?

    Yes. People who provide essential support (e.g. carers) to disabled people are exempt, and do not count towards the six people in a group (where the 'rule of six' applies).

    Other people present are unlikely to be exempt, and should follow the guidance for spectators.

    Spectators are only permitted in groups of up to six, and social distancing must be maintained.

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See our latest coronavirus-related information and support for sport and physical activity providers.

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