We are proud of being a nation that values sports both as participants and spectators at all levels, but this period is clearly a very uncertain time for the resumption of sport. The public health crisis associated with the Coronavirus pandemic has created unprecedented challenges with training and competitive sport suspended and lockdown measures in place since March preventing most forms of sport, recreation and leisure.
The Welsh Government’s ‘Unlocking our Society and Economy’ roadmap, published on 15 May, outlines a phased return to life as we know it. From a sporting perspective, the roadmap indicates that enabling our professional and elite sportspeople to resume some form of training activity could happen in the early ‘red’ phase of the roadmap, with team sports and larger gatherings taking place later in the ‘green’ phase.
As our communities start to plan for the easing of restrictions in Wales, sport will be a vitally important consideration. Our sportspeople, clubs and organisations are part of the fabric of everyday life. They and the hundreds of thousands of Welsh people who participate in sporting activities will be seeking to return to action as soon as possible. But progress must be carefully coordinated, with the health of our people country the primary consideration.
This guidance has been developed to support that process. The approach is guided by the wider public health perspective, the safety of sportspeople and staff, and the financial sustainability of the sector. The guidance acknowledges the complexity of the sector, where each sport and club will be working within unique sets of circumstances and responding to local contexts. It also exists within a continuously changing legislative landscape and should be considered alongside existing, general principles and regulations. This guidance does not fully repeat the guidance already available , but supplements that guidance with specific advice for the sector. It has been designed to assist individual sportspeople, clubs and organisations to deliver a safe return to organised training and competitive sport for athletes and staff, while adhering to social distancing guidelines.
The Welsh Government has worked closely with a number of partners and stakeholders, including Sport Wales and the Welsh Sports Association (WSA), to develop this guidance. Sport in Wales has come together to collectively address the public health concerns around an inclusive return to activity, training and competition and demonstrate a collective ability to put in mitigation measures to ensure public safety. As many of the issues are shared across sport, depending on the context in which they take place, considerable progress can be made by working together.
This guidance does not constitute legal advice or replace any government or Public Health Wales advice; nor does it provide any commentary or advice on health related issues. Individuals, sports clubs, National Governing Bodies (NGBs) and affected organisations should therefore ensure that they seek independent advice from medical practitioners prior to implementing any return to sport plan.
This is a process, not an event, taking place in an evolving landscape. The Welsh Government has no formal role in agreeing specific protocols developed by sports, clubs or facilities for returning to activity when it is appropriate and safe to do so, but we will continue to advise and we will be working closely with the sector for an extended period in support of a safe and inclusive return to sport. This guidance will be reviewed regularly with updates provided through our partners.
Coronavirus health regulations
Wales, in common with the rest of the UK, introduced strict stay-at-home / social distancing and business and premises closures regulations at the end of March, to restrict the spread of Coronavirus and to protect the NHS.
The regulations ask people to think very carefully about when they leave the home. People should have a good reason for leaving home. For example: going shopping for essentials; going to work, if you can't work from home; receiving healthcare; or exercising and being outdoors. Every time we leave home, there is a risk we will come into contact with the virus, increasing its spread.
The Welsh Government reviews the regulations every 21 days and, on the basis of the latest available scientific evidence, considers whether they need to stay in place or whether they can be eased. We have published guidance and a set of frequently asked questions to support any amendments, and other key Welsh Government guidance documents are also updated as necessary to take account of any changes or easements made.
The regulations were last reviewed on 29 May 2020. The latest evidence from the UK Scientific Advisory Group for Emergencies (SAGE) and the advice of the Chief Medical Officer for Wales say that the first peak of infection has passed and rates continue to fall. However, it is still too early for a significant lifting of requirements or restrictions. Social distancing and business closure regulations remain in place. People have to stay local and not be indoors with anyone who is not a member of their household unless they have a good reason.
From 1 June 2020, two households in the same local area will be able to meet outdoors. In doing this, however, people must continue to follow social distancing and strict hand hygiene practices to control the spread of the virus. 'Local' means not generally travelling more than 5 miles from home, to reduce the risk of coronavirus spreading from one area to another. The changes mean people can meet another household outdoors in their local area, but all the other rules to protect people from Coronavirus will stay in place for the time being. The Welsh Government’s ‘frequently asked questions’ about Coronavirus regulations is regularly updated to provide advice about what people and businesses can and cannot do during the outbreak.
On the issue of leaving home to exercise, the regulations allow people to:
- exercise more than once a day
- exercise alone, with members of your household or with members of one other household - exercising in groups with friends is still not allowed. Maintaining a distance of at least 2 metres if exercising with members of another household is crucial – this is embedded in regulations
- exercise locally - exercise must start and finish at home. Certain forms of exercise may start locally but temporarily take you further afield (e.g. a long cycle ride, run or walk). Exercise as a form of “active” travel in this way is now allowed, as long as you start from and finish at home
- drive somewhere to exercise or participate in outdoor activities – this is allowed, as long as you will be staying within your local area. No journeys outside your local area should be taken to exercise in the countryside, at the coast or at other beauty spots, for example – many beauty spots have been closed to prevent people gathering. You should also not travel (by car or motorcycle or using public transport) to the furthest reaches of your local area before starting your exercise, to allow you to travel further outside your local area while exercising. The exception that allows people to exercise outside their local area requires the exercise to start from and finish at home – a long cycle ride for example
The regulations do not stop any particular type of exercise or outdoor activity as long as you stay local, but in practice the type of exercise allowed is constrained by some of the other restrictions put in place to control Coronavirus. For example, indoor swimming pools have been closed; sports courts and leisure centres are closed and certain footpaths, beauty spots and parts of the countryside are closed. A longer list includes skating rinks, indoor fitness studios, gyms, spas, playgrounds, sports courts and outdoor gyms.
To avoid increasing the burden on the NHS, we also advise people not to take unnecessary risks while exercising.
Examples of permitted forms of exercise and sporting activity, including guidance on the limitations of current allowable activity within the regulations, are provided at examples of permitted sporting activity.
Developing a collaborative phased return for sport
Early engagement with our sport sectors, facilitated by Sport Wales and the WSA, has been essential to start developing a phased return for sport. By working together the sector identified a basic framework for a phased return that was outlined in the Welsh Government’s ‘Unlocking our Society and Economy’ roadmap.
The timing and extent of resumed activity across the four themes in the roadmap will vary as we progress through the phases for moving out of lockdown. However, the message is clear: some activities - due to the limitations posed by social distancing - lend themselves to resuming earlier than others and a coordinated approach is required.
- Lockdown - exercise once a day outside of house on own or with household.
- Red - exercise more than once a day and incidental activity locally. Outdoor sports courts to open. Elite athletes resume some activity.
- Amber - team and individual sports, non-contact sport and games in small groups indoors and outdoors. Some outdoor events with limited capacity and events behind closed doors for broadcast.
- Green - all sports, leisure and cultural activities open, with physical distancing. All events resume with limited capacity.
Since the publication of the roadmap, the sector has continued to develop a joined-up approach. This has culminated in the establishment of specific groups, with representation from the breadth of sporting activity across Wales, to consider more distinct challenges around the following themes:
- elite and professional sports
- outdoor sports
- indoor sports and leisure facilities
The purpose of each group is to develop an approach for a phased return and consider opportunities that can be presented to the Welsh Government as part of each 21 day review. These groups will also need to consider guidance required to support the sector.
As many of the issues are shared across sport, depending on the context in which they take place, considerable progress can be made by working together. Collectively we are focused on encouraging collaboration between the sport governing bodies and facility providers, to work together to find the right phased return solutions. The groups are considering how any recommendations will impact on low income families and disabled participants, to ensure the approach taken is as inclusive as possible.
This guidance should also be considered in the context of regulations and guidance in other areas of life where there are key interdependencies that will affect the way we move forward, such as restrictions on travel and education and childcare. Resumption of some activities will depend on access to natural and outdoor cultural sites. Separate guidance on the reopening of these sites for recreation is provided by Natural Resources Wales. Restrictions for older and/or more vulnerable members of society, including those individuals being advised on medical grounds to continue to shield will also have an impact on how sports, clubs and facilities plan for a phased return to activity.
On 29 May the First Minister indicated that at the next review (18 June), the Welsh Government will examine options including:
- re-opening outdoor sites, including sports courts; and
- re-opening facilities for non-professional elite athletes to train safely.
The following section provides a summary of the key issues raised to date. More specific guidance will then need to be developed to support the unlocking of the regulations to enable sport to resume in full.
Elite and professional sports
The group highlighted the difficulty of developing a phased return for most elite sports until the fundamental principles in the regulations are relaxed, such as allowing exercise with people outside your household, allowing more than two people to congregate in a public place and allowing more extensive travelling for exercise to that currently permitted (from 1 June you are permitted to meet and exercise with members of one other household on a socially distanced basis). The group also identified wider issues such as access to venues and facilities, the notice period required for facilities to prepare for safe reopening, the prohibitive costs of having medical teams and testing capabilities, restrictions on UK and international travel, and economic considerations e.g. furlough, insurance and liability.
The need to formulate some options that could enable a phased return to safe training, recognising the proximity of qualification periods for Olympic, Paralympic and Commonwealth Games for Welsh athletes was also highlighted as a significant issue. The elite athletes are impacted with many forms of training curtailed and this will impact on their ability to qualify for future events. Specific consideration would also need to be given to certain para athletes who may be at an elevated risk, to enable them to return safely to training. Further, as with the professional sports, elite sports also require a level playing field elsewhere in the UK and over time internationally, otherwise the number of Welsh athletes competing at the highest level will be lower, and for those competing there will be an impact on performance.
Impact of current regulations
From 1 June 2020 some relaxation of the restrictions on exercising has been possible, although exercising in groups from more than two households is still not allowed and social distancing rules remain in place.
In the context of the Welsh Coronavirus restrictions regulations, there is currently a distinction between professional and elite sportspeople. The group felt it was important to clarify this situation, to maintain a level playing field between professional sports in Wales and elsewhere in the UK, especially where competitions operate across boundaries. The football Championship EFL, involving Swansea AFC and Cardiff CC, was highlighted as an example. The Deputy Minister for Culture, Sport and Tourism made a statement clarifying the current position on 21 May.
Guidance: professional sport
Our professional sportspeople are at the top level of sport and will be seeking to return to training as early as possible. This is their profession; they earn a living from sport – the sports field is their workplace.
The Welsh Coronavirus restrictions regulations require everyone to work from home where possible; where that is not possible, employers must take all reasonable measures to comply with the social distancing measures required in the workplace. In a professional sporting context, this means that training and play for our professional sportspeople can continue provided the clubs – as employers – can take all reasonable measures to maintain physical distancing in the workplace, whether that’s at a training ground or at a stadium.
Professional sportspeople are those individuals who earn a living from sport. In so far as professional sports are concerned, the players, coaches and staff will be employed and carrying out work – which they are allowed to do. Should they feel unwell and display symptoms of Coronavirus, they should immediately self-isolate (as well as their household), follow the Welsh Government’s self-isolation guidelines, and apply for a Coronavirus test.
The Government has published guidance to help employers understand their responsibilities and to allow workplaces to operate as safely as possible.
Guidance: elite athletes
Not all elite sportspeople are professional and earn a living through sport. For the purpose of this guidance, elite athletes are individuals who are nominated by their national governing body, but only those governing bodies who nominate for Olympic, Paralympic or Commonwealth Games for representation by Great Britain or Wales.
The regulations do not currently make any distinction in respect of elite athletes and at present they are not able to resume training. The Welsh Government will consider whether elite athletes can be allowed to resume to training at the next review. This guidance will be reviewed and updated if elite athletes are permitted to resume training under amended regulations in future.
In the meantime, we advise all NGBs to make sure they have all the necessary protocols, policies and procedures in place in preparation for a limited resumption of training, keeping athletes and support staff safe. We advise the group to consider how they could support the NGBs in planning for a return to training in a phased approach, with reference to the recommendations in the relevant sections of this guidance. The elite sports and Sport Wales should consider the option of combining a group of elite sports to form a small manageable cluster in one controlled location, bearing in mind venue and workplace safety requirements. Consideration should also be given to equal opportunity based on geography.
The group suggested a conservative approach to return to sport should be taken, to support public health measures, allow sufficient time to prepare for a safe return and to determine the impact of easing restrictions. It may be some time before multi-participant activities can resume, including outdoors, although outdoor individual sports and sports which can be adapted to be played outdoors whilst maintaining social distancing may be able to return in some form in the first few phases of easing restrictions.
It is important that outdoor facilities and NGBs are given the time they need to prepare for a re-start, as demand is likely to be high when facilities re-open. Coronavirus training, clear messaging to the public about what they can and cannot do and supportive engagement with staff, young people, parents and volunteers to give them confidence to return and encourage ongoing engagement will all be needed.
The group recognised opportunities in relation to easing regulations around driving to exercise that could open up greater access for sports such as golf, angling, horse-riding and canoeing, currently restricted in their return by the need to carry equipment. Some car parks might also be able to open safely to help facilitate certain outdoor activities. Consideration might also be given to opening outdoor sport courts for appropriate use; allowing exercise with one other person outside of your own household (taking account of the social distancing requirements); and to the opening of port authorities, harbours, marinas, off-shore and lakes and inland waterways, to enable some water based sports to prepare and develop recovery plans for a return in future phases.
Impact of current regulations
Many outdoor sports and associated training, especially group activities, are constrained by regulations put in place to control the spread of Coronavirus, despite the relaxation of some restrictions on exercising implemented on 1 June 2020 – e.g. social distancing requirements, restrictions to both travel outside your local area and gathering with people from more than one household, plus the closure of facilities such as sports courts, leisure centres and outdoor gyms.
Sports participation should be restricted to participants exercising in groups from no more than two households, conforming to social distancing rules. Venues, when re-opened, will be advised to display signs to this effect. The police have been given powers to enforce measures to prevent public gatherings beyond those now allowed within the amended regulations.
A list of examples of forms of exercise and sporting activity, including guidance on the limitations of current allowable activity within the regulations, plus links to the RNLI’s essential lifeguard and safety advice on water activities at the beach, on the coast or at sea.
The Welsh Government will consider whether the re-opening of outdoors facilities, such as tennis courts and bowling greens, can be allowed at the next review. This guidance will be continually reviewed. When the circumstances allow, additional guidance will be provided on access to outdoor facilities and the return of group activities.
Some activities may initially become permissible on a limited or adapted basis, while certain restrictions remain in place. We would advise sports, clubs and facilities to consider whether and how they might return to inclusive training and / or play on this basis (e.g. maintaining distancing, preventing or limiting actual contact, eliminating or minimising use of shared equipment).
Sports or clubs considering the potential return of events that make use of natural and outdoor cultural sites with public access (e.g. triathlons, running events) should also refer to separate guidance on the reopening of these sites for recreation provided by Natural Resources Wales.
Individuals exercising outdoors should minimise risk to themselves and others and only undertake activity well within their ability. Should they feel unwell and display symptoms of Coronavirus, they should immediately self-isolate (as well as their household), follow the Welsh Government’s self-isolation guidelines, and apply for a Coronavirus test.
Indoor sports and leisure facilities
The group highlighted that there should be no changes to the restrictions on use of indoor sporting and leisure facilities in the short-tem, noting that indoor facilities used by the general public are likely to be the last to return. There are significant, complex issues relating to the challenges of easing lockdown for sporting facilities that need further consideration. These include the critical need to open in a Coronavirus safe manner that avoids the further spread of infection and staff training requirements (e.g. on physical distancing measures, new cleaning chemicals / regimes).
Most facilities will need a 2-3 week notice period to reopen in a safe manner, particularly swimming pools. Clarity would be needed on mass participation (e.g. guidance on numbers allowed in a building at any one time). Facilities would also need guidance on providing services across a range of sporting activities that may be at different points on their separate phased returns at the same time. It was also noted that the First Minister’s roadmap indicates that some indoor sports may be allowable in the amber phase, but this may be limited in practice as many facilities may not be in a position to re-open until the green phase.
There are commercial viability concerns regarding reopening with social distancing measures likely to cause a significant reduction in income, although areas can be reutilised to maximise distancing. This will be especially challenging for smaller venues and clubs, some of whom will also have lost key income generation opportunities from annual events which have had to be cancelled. The furlough scheme extension is considered vital for the survival of the leisure industry. Consumer and staff confidence to return to facilities is crucial and their expectations would need to be addressed, especially an understanding that operating hours may need to change. Consideration should be given to standard guidance for facilities managers and users. Clarity is also required on Test, Trace, Protect to ensure it is mobilised effectively and what each venue will need to do to assist with this strategy. Advice would be required on medical protocols and access to personal protective equipment (PPE) is also a consideration.
It was agreed that a centralised hub will be created specific to Wales, taking into account Welsh policy to create a set of protocols for implementation. This would be hosted by the WSA and information would be disseminated through the group and national governing bodies. This would give facility providers, funders, the Welsh Government and statutory partners the confidence that facilities have considered and addressed all relevant issues and there is consistency across the board before re-opening.
Impact of current regulations
At present, all indoor sports and leisure facilities are closed under the regulations.
This guidance will be continually reviewed. When the circumstances allow, additional guidance will be provided on the return of indoor sports and the reopening of sports and leisure facilities. In planning for the eventual reopening of indoor facilities – and pending further guidance to be provided in due course - sports, clubs and facilities should initially consider the high-level principles introduced in Section 4 below.
Some indoor activities may initially become permissible on a limited or adapted basis, while certain restrictions remain in place.
The latest science on microdroplet spread may mean exercise in an indoor, non-air ventilated area may carry more risk. Outdoor or open area play would carry least risk. Air conditioned rooms are not particularly effective, but opening windows and doors to the exterior on the opposite side of a building to create air flow is effective at clearing microdroplet airborne particles created when someone sneezes or shouts.
We would advise sports, clubs and facilities to consider whether and how they might return to training and / or play on this basis (e.g. maintaining distancing, preventing or limiting actual contact, eliminating or minimising use of shared equipment).
Guidance for sports, clubs and facilities
A return to exercise, sport and physical activity can only be possible within the current Coronavirus health regulations and when guidelines allow. A summary of the latest regulations and guidelines relating to exercise are provided at Section 2.
The following Section provides high-level guidance on the safe resumption of sport when the regulations allow. It is intended to assist NGBs, clubs (i.e. sport clubs and other organisations that provide regular access to sporting activities) and facilities to plan and prepare for the future. We would especially ask NGBs to reach out to participants and facility providers / businesses beyond their traditional membership, to ensure that any ‘distanced stakeholders’ in their sport have access to important information and advice.
It is an expectation that each organisation will apply appropriate and bespoke solutions that focus on safeguarding participants, staff and the public, and will give due consideration to the local communities in which they exist and operate. For those organisations who own and manage geographically dispersed sites, it is important that approaches are appropriately tailored to local circumstances. In doing so, you must consider the rights of those with protected characteristics and how they can continue to safely access your site and activities. You must also consider how you will continue to comply with Welsh language legislation when implementing any changes.
Plans should be proportionate, should be reviewed regularly, and must offer a careful, phased approach to re-opening. Organisations should also focus on creating agile solutions that can be paused or rapidly reversed in the event of further Coronavirus outbreaks.
Public confidence will be key in supporting a successful and commercially viable return to business.
Principles to prepare for a safe return to training and play
The principles described here for preparing a safe return to training or play illustrate the level of preparation and activity that might be expected of larger NGBs, professional or elite teams and clubs, and facilities that provide services at that level or to those organisations. They are not intended to be prescriptive for all organisations providing sporting, leisure and recreational activities. Plans for resuming training or play should be appropriate to the nature of the organisation and activity concerned.
However, it is important to stress that we would expect all clubs, organisations or facilities providing activities at any level, whatever their size, reach or location, to be mindful of these principles when planning for a resumption of activity, to ensure this happens safely and conforms to Welsh Government guidance on the Coronavirus regulations.
The principles should be adapted for use as required, proportionate to the level, size and scope of activities being delivered and tailored accordingly, subject (as appropriate) to medical advice and consultation with the relevant NGB. The WSA or Sport Wales may also be able to provide support, advice and identification of best practice, but would have no formal role in agreeing individual return to sport plans.
Working within public health regulations and guidelines
Activities should only be resumed where Welsh Government guidelines on social distancing can be followed.
All activity should be consistent with the Welsh Government’s guidance regarding health, social distancing and hygiene.
Under current circumstances that means participants and others must be able to maintain a safe two metre distance, that good hygiene practices are in place, that equipment is disinfected regularly, and that it is clear that anyone who is symptomatic - or suspects they may have been exposed to the virus - does not take part. They should immediately self-isolate (as well as their household), follow the Welsh Government’s self-isolation guidelines, and apply for a Coronavirus test.
Appointing key accountable officers
The organisation’s Accountable Officer should name an existing member of the organisation as Coronavirus officer. They will be responsible for oversight of the Coronavirus risk assessments, for ensuring the necessary level of risk assessment and mitigations are in place, and that the organisation can adhere to its guidance responsibilities within local constraints.
Recognising individuals’ rights and well-being
Consideration of athlete and support staff well-being will be paramount; there will need to be a clear and non-punitive opt-in/opt-out option for all, as well as a disclaimer for those who do opt-in.
Risk assessment is about identifying sensible measures in a timely fashion to control the risks in your training and play environment and the service you provide. The development of a risk assessment will help you decide whether all necessary issues have been addressed and help inform decisions and control measures.
Sports / clubs should prepare a risk assessment and risk mitigation plan, to be completed before resumption of activity at each venue that determines and communicates what can or cannot be achieved in relation to training and / or play in the local context.
The risk assessment and risk mitigation plan should be sufficient to ensure that activities can be run safely, in a manner that conforms to Welsh Government legislation and guidance and appropriately protects all individuals involved (e.g. athletes, staff, spectators). The risk assessment should be reviewed regularly to ensure that it remains relevant and appropriate under changing circumstances.
Clear protocols to manage any person who becomes symptomatic in the training or play environment should be included in the risk assessment and risk mitigation plan.
Clear protocols to provide/display clear messaging to individuals that anyone displaying symptoms of Coronavirus should not turn up for training or to play. They should immediately self-isolate (as well as their household), follow the Welsh Government’s self-isolation guidelines, and apply for a Coronavirus test.
Clear protocols to support the Welsh Government’s Test, Trace, Protect strategy and the associated GDPR implications of retaining and making available people’s personal information as needed, both in terms of staff members and individuals in the training or play environment.
Similarly, the risk assessment and risk mitigation plan should outline how staff who are returning to the training or play environment from self or household isolation due to suspected or confirmed cases of Coronavirus or other Coronavirus related reasons (such as having to isolate as part of a household where a member(s) was suspected or confirmed as having Coronavirus) will be medically assessed prior to return.
A risk assessment and risk mitigation plan should also be prepared for single sporting events and competitions, such as for matches being played behind closed doors that are broadcast live on television.
Employers have a duty to consult employees on health and safety. Workers should be involved in assessing workplace risks and the development and review of workplace health and safety policies in partnership with the employer. They should be supported by their trades union or other representative organisation where appropriate. Employees should be encouraged to identify, speak up and feedback on risks and control measures, so they can be adapted.
When thinking about risk, key principles include:
- considering possible harms to both the physical and mental health of participants, staff, volunteers and visitors
- minimising the need for journeys and face-to-face contact
- considering the age and vulnerability of people
- considering the minimum safe levels of staffing – for example to maintain the specific Coronavirus protocols, or in the event of a member of staff or volunteer becoming unwell, or needing to isolate repeatedly (this may affect visitor capacity on site)
- putting arrangements in place in the event of someone becoming unwell whilst on the premises;
- keeping risk assessments as ‘live’ documents and regularly reviewed
- recognising that communication, training, and appropriate equipment are significant factors in helping to reduce risk
Coronavirus symptoms or returning from illness
Each NGB should have a named Coronavirus medical officer, familiar with the emerging evidence related to post-Coronavirus pathology, who is expected to:
- lead on ensuring any suspected or confirmed Coronavirus cases are managed in line with the sport’s Coronavirus case management protocols and current government guidance
- have medical oversight of the return to training of any athletes that had suspected or confirmed cases of Coronavirus
- support the Coronavirus Officer with any medical aspects of the risk assessment and mitigation process
Sports who do not have access to a medical officer to cover these responsibilities should secure medical cover to oversee these processes prior to resuming organised activity. Regular screening for symptoms within the training or play environment may be carried out by an appropriately trained healthcare professional working with a set of protocols defined in the risk assessment mitigation plan and signed off by the medical officer.
Athletes who are returning to the training or play environment from isolation due to suspected or confirmed cases of Coronavirus or other Coronavirus related reasons (such as having to isolate as part of a household where a member[s] was suspected or confirmed as having Coronavirus) must do so under the direction of a physician/medical officer, familiar with the emerging evidence related to post- Coronavirus pathology and following the most up to date return to training steps. This should include a check-up with the same medical officer before re-engaging with the training or play environment.
Should a known or suspected Coronavirus case occur in the training or play environment, or an individual be identified as a contact of a known case, the individual/s in question should immediately self-isolate (as well as their household), follow the Welsh Government’s self-isolation guidelines, and apply for a Coronavirus test . The designated medical officer should be immediately informed if not involved with identifying and isolating the case at the training venue.
The individual affected and anyone they may have come into close contact with in the training or play environment should be reminded of the actions they should take as part of the Welsh Government’s Test, Trace, Protect strategy, designed to enhance health surveillance in the community, undertake effective and extensive contact tracing, and support people to self-isolate where required to do so.
Test, Trace, Protect will mean asking people to report symptoms, testing anyone in the community who is showing symptoms of Coronavirus, and tracing those they have come into close contact with.
The Welsh Government has published guidance on employers' responsibilities to help with Coronavirus testing and contact tracing.
Athletes or staff deemed ‘extremely vulnerable’ on medical grounds should continue to follow Welsh Government advice. This currently includes maintaining ‘shielding’ but which permits leaving home to exercise outdoors, and with people from up to one other household, as long as social distancing rules are strictly adhered to. These individuals should not therefore return to organised training or play but are able to exercise outdoors at times when fewer other people are around, to help further limit any risk of them contracting Coronavirus.
Timetable for reopening
You should only reopen or restart activities when the regulations allow and as soon as you feel able to do so safely. Until you feel it is safe and responsible to reopen you should remain closed.
It is for each employer to decide when is the appropriate time to return staff to work and, where appropriate, to cease any relevant claims for wages currently being made via the UK Government Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme.
A furloughed employee can take part in volunteer work - if it does not provide services to, or generate revenue for, or on behalf of, your organisation or a linked or associated organisation.
When planning for any reopening, you will need to consider any notice periods or other arrangements required for furloughed or redeployed staff to return to work.
Costs of reopening
The Welsh Government will not generally help meet the cost of reopening and it will be for each organisation to determine whether it is right for them to re-open at a given time. Sports and hosts (as applicable) will need to discuss and agree how any abnormal costs that arise from mobilising a facility for use during restricted periods will be handled prior to training or play being resumed.
There are potentially other sources of support through Sport Wales or possibly NGBs, but there will be priorities for such funding and therefore support cannot be guaranteed.
Separate guidance on options for councils in supporting leisure providers has been published by the Welsh Local Government Association (WLGA).
Protective equipment for staff
The Welsh Government has published guidance on the Coronavirus and Personal Protective Equipment (PPE), this guidance should be followed and will be updated regularly.
The Welsh Government has published guidance on face coverings and Coronavirus. This covers how and when you could wear a face covering to protect those around you, if you choose to wear one.
Organisations will need to communicate clearly and regularly with members and participants, setting out what they are doing to manage risk and what advice they are giving to individuals to do likewise.
Ideally organisations should publish an action plan detailing their plans to re-open safely and the steps they are taking to avoid and reduce the potential of transmission.
Organisations should also clearly communicate opening times and how people can safely access a facility, if relevant - for example, through a booking or queuing system.
It is more important than ever to consider inclusive guidance for people who need support to be active. Organisations should consider this as part of their work to encourage people to return.
Ensure that all policies are reviewed regularly (at least weekly) and particularly in light of changes to government guidance, lessons learned and any other examples of best practice elsewhere.
Principles to prepare for safe management of indoor and outdoor facilities
Facilities supporting the public health crisis
The resumption of organised sport should not in any way limit the host’s ability to support ongoing usage of the facility for supporting the NHS or key worker requirements.
Appointing responsible officers
Each facility should have its own named Coronavirus officer. The officer should be responsible for oversight of the venue’s Coronavirus risk assessment and mitigation plan, ensuring the necessary level of risk assessment and mitigation has taken place and that sports and hosts can adhere to the guidance within their facility.
All hosts must ensure staff and visitors are formally appraised of the risks, mitigating steps being taken and requested to actively ‘opt-in’ if they are comfortable to return to working within the training environment, by way of written consent.
Venues should display clear messaging to all users of their facilities that anyone displaying symptoms of Coronavirus should not be attempting to use the facilities, but should immediately self-isolate (as well as their household), follow the Welsh Government’s self-isolation guidelines, and apply for a Coronavirus test.
Where multiple sports/clubs are utilising the same training site/s all Coronavirus officers should share their risk assessments and operational plans, to ensure alignment and avoid any potential conflict between plans.
Hosts of venues being re-opened should only agree to operate where they are able to comply with the law, with current Welsh Government and Public Health Wales advice, and when all the usual essential insurance cover that is required to run the facilities is in place and remains valid.
Sports and hosts should discuss and agree how any abnormal costs that arise from mobilising a facility for use during restricted periods will be handled prior to training being resumed.
Separate guidance on options for councils in supporting leisure providers has been published by the Welsh Local Government Association (WLGA).
Employees and protecting people at work
It is a legal requirement that all reasonable actions will have been taken in order to minimise transmission of Coronavirus in the workplace. The Welsh Government has issued guidance on taking all reasonable measures to maintain physical distancing in the workplace, and also guidance for employers and employees on keeping safe in the workplace.
All reasonable measures must be taken to maintain a two metre distance between individuals in the workplace. The guidance above will help when considering the measures needed to reduce infection transmission rates at work.
Additional practical issues to consider include:
- how staff enter and leave the workplace;
- arrangements for staff car parking / bicycles;
- protocols for back of house access including handling deliveries, visiting contractors, cash handling (where it is necessary and unavoidable);
- how to conduct meetings on- and offsite, including remote working; and
- the need for thorough and more regular cleaning of staff facilities and toilets.
You should also consider:
- appropriate training and briefing of staff and volunteers in the context of the new Coronavirus related roles and responsibilities;
- employee well-being, for example, how worried staff may feel about coming back into the building/site;
- the possibility of increased levels of absenteeism affecting critical activities and how this could be prevented (for example consider training several members of staff to cover different roles);
- updating human resources policies and procedures to take account of coronavirus related matters (such as those relating to sickness, absence, well-being, mental health, remote/flexible working and training – remember to address new reasons for absence including close contact isolation or requiring time off work to take care of a dependent) and clearly communicating the changes to staff;
- providing support to staff returning to work following traumatic events such as the death or illness of a loved one, or financial difficulty;
- minimising the levels of interaction between staff – for example through shift patterns, flexible working, staggered breaks and use of welfare facilities;
- implementing additional specialised safe working practices that may be relevant to your setting - in consultation with staff, staff representatives and volunteers;
- let staff know how they can raise workplace health and safety concerns, and draft a protocol for how these issues can be resolved;
- remember that some staff may still be at home and try to keep open lines of communication with them, and involve them in planning for the reopening and future changes.
- making sure that staff do not report for work if they have symptoms of Coronavirus, or one of their household members has symptoms of Coronavirus and in which event they should immediately self-isolate (as well as their household), follow the Welsh Government’s self-isolation guidelines, and apply for a Coronavirus test.
- making sure staff are aware of the Welsh Government’s Test, Trace, Protect strategy and the organisation’s requirements to comply with that strategy, as well as the associated GDPR implications of retaining and making available people’s personal information as needed, both in terms of staff members and individuals in the training or play environment. Staff should be made aware of the data held on them, the retention policy and what that personal information could be used for, including that it could be released if needed as part of a Test, Trace, Protect investigation.
Booking in advance, online or over the phone is preferable. Where this is not possible, and a venue has staff available to take bookings (for courts or rounds, for example), consider mandating contactless or at least card payment, to avoid handling cash.
Remember that some people do not have internet access. You should make provision for them to be able to make bookings / enquiries offline.
Test, Trace, Protect
Implementing an appropriate and thorough record-keeping system to support the Welsh Government’s Test, Trace, Protect strategy in terms of staff on duty at the facilities, and individuals using the facilities at venues to ensure they can be traced, contacted, advised to self-isolate and tested accordingly for Coronavirus in the event of them having used the facilities, or been working at the venue, at the same time as an individual, or staff member, who has since tested positive for Coronavirus.
When taking bookings venues will need to ensure that facility users are duly advised (verbally by phone, or via a website or on-line booking system) of the need and reasons under GDPR rules for their personal information to be retained, and the duration required, to support the Welsh Government’s Test, Trace, Protect strategy.
Ensure, where possible, that windows and doors to the exterior on the opposite side of a building are opened to create air flow, as this is most effective at clearing microdroplet airborne particles created when someone sneezes or shouts.
Keeping facilities and equipment clean
Cleaning protocols should be put in place to limit Coronavirus transmission in public places. It is advised that touch points (e.g. door handles, counters, handrails and gates) should be particular areas of focus for increased cleaning.
Frequent cleaning of work areas and equipment between uses, using your usual cleaning products, is advised. As is clearing workspaces and removing waste and belongings from work areas at the end of shifts.
To help everyone maintain good hygiene, consideration should be given to:
- using signs and posters to build awareness of good handwashing technique, the need to increase handwashing frequency, avoid touching your face and to cough or sneeze into your arm;
- providing regular reminders and signage to maintain hygiene standards;
- providing hand sanitiser in multiple locations in addition to washrooms;
- setting clear use and cleaning guidance for changing rooms and toilets to ensure they are kept clean and social distancing is achieved as much as possible;
- enhancing cleaning for busy areas;
- providing more waste facilities and more frequent rubbish collection;
- replacing hand dryers with paper towels in handwashing facilities;
- minimising use of portable toilets; and
- sufficient provision of automated hand sanitising dispensers in public places.
Catering outlets, changing rooms and car parks
Catering outlets will need to stay closed until further notice.
If there is the capacity and resource to be in a position to serve takeaway food and drinks, then hot and cold food may be served for consumption off the premises (i.e. outside of the building).
At till points, consider mandating contactless or at least card payment, to avoid handling cash. Also ensure the two metre social distancing between queuing customers, and also between servers and customers when food or drink is handed over.
Indoor facilities, apart from toilets and through-ways should be kept closed.
You may re-open car parks if you need to.
Key pieces of Welsh Government guidance
- Unlocking our society and economy: continuing the conversation
- Leading Wales out of the coronavirus pandemic – a framework for recovery
- Coronavirus regulations: frequently asked questions
- Coronavirus (Covid-19): employers and businesses guidance
- Coronavirus and personal protective equipment (PPE)
- Coronavirus social distancing guidance
- Coronavirus: Leaving home to exercise: guidance
- Face coverings: frequently asked questions
- Self-isolation: stay at home guidance for households with possible coronavirus
- Taking all reasonable measures to maintain physical distancing in the workplace
- Taking all reasonable measures to maintain physical distancing in the workplace – supplementary guidance
- Travelling safely (coronavirus): guidance for the public
- Shielding and protecting people defined on medical grounds as extremely vulnerable from coronavirus
- Test, Trace, Protect protocols
- Test, Trace, Protect guidance for employers
Examples of permitted sporting activity
Angling is allowed but it must be done locally, which means people cannot drive outside their local area, and you must do so alone or with a member of your or one other household (in the latter instance applying the social distancing rules). Tackle shops must remain closed (as most other sports shops) but can operate remotely via deliveries or ‘click and collect’ services.
Cycling is allowed but you must cycle alone or with members of your household or one other household (in the latter instance applying the social distancing rules). Cycling in groups larger than that is not allowed, regardless of whether social distancing practices are followed.
People are expected to only cycle on routes they know well and are within their ability level. Cyclists on shared paths should be considerate of walkers, runners and other people cycling: they should stay two metres away from others, slow their pace and stop to let people pass, as appropriate. Cycling to work, or for work, is also allowed, if you cannot work from home.
Playing golf is allowed but it must be done locally, which means people cannot drive to play golf outside their local area, and you must play golf alone or with a member of your or one other household (in the latter instance applying the social distancing rules).
Golf courses are not currently listed in the regulations as a business or premise that must close, but we recognise that some may not be able to stay open, based on the restrictions on activity.
You can ride a horse, providing that you are alone or with members of your own household or one other household (in the latter instance applying the social distancing rules). You should also observe social distancing where possible when encountering other riders or the public.
Indoor and outdoor swimming pools are currently closed. Open water swimming is permitted alone, or with members of your own household, or with members of one other household (in the latter instance applying the social distancing rules) and as long as it is local and on the basis that it isn’t taking unnecessary risks. You should be mindful of placing undue pressure on emergency services at any time, but particularly so during the lockdown period.
Please review the RNLI’s essential safety advice on water activities at the beach, on the coast or at sea before you leave home. Links are provided in the Watersports section below.
Watersports, including beach activities and boating
You can go to the beach to exercise as long as you are alone or with members of your household or one other household (in the latter instance applying the social distancing rules) and you stay local. You can also access marinas, ports and harbours within your local area if they are open. Most forms of water sports practised on open waterways, including sailing, windsurfing, canoeing, rowing, kayaking, surfing, paddle-boarding and motor-boating are allowed, but should not involve taking unnecessary risks.
There should be no overnight stays on boats, no landing of boats in communities beyond the immediate local area and there is a requirement to return to your point of departure. Boating activities should only be undertaken with crews made up of people from the same household. We advise boaters to be mindful of the potential impact that you could have on other water users and to not place unnecessary extra strain on the RNLI and emergency services.
Please review essential safety advice from the RNLI on water activities at the beach, on the coast or at sea before you leave home. Many beaches and their car parks remain closed, or may not have the usual lifeguard cover in place, as the normal seasonal lifeguard service was paused at the end of March due to the measures put in place to control the spread of Coronavirus. See RNLI advice on beaches with lifeguard cover.