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 started to plan for the easing of restrictions in Wales, sport has been 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, have been seeking to return to action as soon as possible. But progress has needed to be carefully coordinated, with the health of our 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 implement 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 has been 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 continue to ensure that they seek prior independent advice from medical practitioners in their progressive implementation of their return to sport plans.
This continues to be 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 their return to activity as it has been 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 has continued to be reviewed regularly with updates provided through our partners.
Links to the Welsh Government’s over-arching guidance on Coronavirus can be found towards the end of this document.
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 have been updated over the months since March as the situation with the pandemic has evolved. The Welsh Government has been reviewing the regulations every 21 days and, on the basis of the latest available scientific evidence, considers whether they need to remain 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 latest evidence from the UK Scientific Advisory Group for Emergencies (SAGE) and the advice of the Chief Medical Officer for Wales and the Welsh Government’s Technical Advisory Cell say that the first peak of infection has passed and rates continue to fall. However, it is too soon to ease all the restrictions. Social/physical distancing requirements and some business closure regulations remain in place. People should not be indoors with anyone who is not a member of their household (including extended households) unless they have a good reason. (Wherever this guidance mentions “households” or “people you share a home with”, this should be taken also to include extended households.)
Since 6 July, two households have been able to join together to form an “extended household”. From 22 August, up to four households will be allowed to join together in an extended household. In effect the people in all the households become part of a single household and enjoy the same legal freedoms a household has – they are able to meet indoors and have physical contact. They can also stay in each other’s homes. Since 3 August gatherings of up to 30 people have been able to meet outdoors. The regulations still require all reasonable measures to be taken to ensure a distance of 2 metres between any persons is maintained (except between members of the same household, or a carer and the person assisted by the carer.) From 22 June, changes were made to allow outdoor courts to open and to enable non-professional elite athletes, including Olympic and Paralympic hopefuls, to resume training. With the requirement to stay local lifted, people are now able to travel to exercise and play sport, subject to all other measures being met.
On 10 July, Ministers allowed further, significant changes to the regulations which permitted outdoor gyms to open and organised outdoor group activities to resume. People can now meet outdoors in groups up to 30 (subject to ensuring the social/physical distancing requirements for non-household members) The regulations also allow larger outdoor events to take place as long as they are authorised in writing by the Welsh Ministers, attended by no more than 100 people, and are held in accordance with any conditions specified by the Welsh Ministers. On 21 August, the First Minister announced three small-scale outdoor events would be trialled in Wales and the events were part of a phased approach to the safe reopening of the events industry. The trials, along with what we learn from events being tested in other parts of the United Kingdom, will inform future reviews of the regulations.
It is acknowledged that it is not always possible to maintain physical distancing during outdoor activities, for example in outdoor team sports. The guidance in the ‘Outdoor Team Sports - A Framework for Developing Bespoke Guidance’ section of this document makes it clear where physical distancing is not possible, all reasonable steps must be taken to minimise and mitigate the risk of exposure to coronavirus, including reducing face to face interaction and ceasing activities.
From 10 August swimming pools, indoor fitness studios, gyms, spas and indoor leisure centres have been able to re-open. From the same date exercise with others, in a gathering of no more than 30 people (including any members of staff or instructors), at a fitness studio, gym, swimming pool, other indoor leisure centre or facility or any other open premises was also allowed.
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 as the pandemic has evolved.
The regulations do not stop any particular type of exercise or outdoor activity but in practice, the type of exercise allowed is constrained by some of the other restrictions put in place to control Coronavirus. For example, certain footpaths, beauty spots and parts of the countryside remain closed, along with a small number of facilities such as skating rinks. To avoid increasing the burden on the NHS, we continue to advise people not to take unnecessary risks while exercising or taking part in any activity.
Developing a collaborative phased return for sport
Early engagement with our sport sectors, facilitated by Sport Wales and the WSA, has been essential in progressing 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 has varied as we have progressed through the phases for moving out of lockdown. However, the message has been clear: some activities - due to the limitations posed by social/physical distancing – have been able to be resumed earlier than others and a coordinated approach has been 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 which has assisted the Welsh Government in making decisions about which activities have been able to resume and when. This has allowed some activities in the roadmap to resume earlier than anticipated, such as some outdoor events behind closed doors. This collaboration has taken the form 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 has been 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 have also given consideration as to whether specific guidance has been 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 has been and can continue to 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 have taken account in their considerations how any recommendations would 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 continue to 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 who were previously advised on medical grounds to shield and those in the increased risk group have also had an impact on how sports, clubs and facilities have been able to plan for a phased return to activity.
The following section summarises the key issues raised to date, sets out the implications of current regulations, and provides guidance to support the sector in interpreting the regulations for sport to continue to resume safely.
Elite and professional sports
The group initially highlighted the difficulty of developing a phased return for most elite sports until the fundamental principles in the regulations were 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 what was initially permitted. 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 would 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 have been impacted with many forms of training curtailed and this will have had an impact on their ability to qualify for future events. Specific consideration has also needed 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 regulations
In the context of the Welsh Coronavirus restrictions regulations, there was initially 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 position on 21 May.
The changes to the regulations that came into force on 22 June meant that a phased approach for a return to training for certain elite athletes has been able to be implemented.
Guidance - professional sport
Our professional sportspeople are at the top level of sport and have been seeking to return to training and play 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 have required everyone to work from home where possible; where that is not possible, employers must take all reasonable measures to comply with the physical 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. Further information is available: guidance for households with possible coronavirus and daily contact tracing check: symptoms, guidance and support.
The Welsh Government has published guidance to help employers understand their responsibilities and to allow workplaces to operate as safely as possible. Employers also need to have regard to the reasonable measures guidance.
Professional sportspeople, coaches and staff who are required to travel for the purposes of training and play should be mindful of the Welsh Government’s and the Foreign and Commonwealth Office’s travel advice, especially the advice on wearing face coverings on public transport in Wales, and for foreign travel. Sportspeople, coaches and staff entering Wales, either to compete or when returning from abroad, should be aware of Welsh border rules introduced due to Coronavirus and the circumstances when they may be exempt from these rules, or be required to quarantine on arrival but allowed to leave quarantine to train or compete in their sport.
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.
Since 22 June, the regulations have allowed some elite athletes, such as Olympic and Paralympic Games hopefuls, and podium potential for Commonwealth Games, to resume their training programmes. Sport Wales has been working with Commonwealth Games Wales and the NGBs to identify groups of athletes who are able to resume structured training and have access to appropriate facilities to properly prepare for the time when sporting competition resumes. There remains strict protocols in place to allow those athletes to train and prepare safely, without compromising their own health and the health and safety of others. The athletes are allowed to:
- travel for training in Wales and across the UK
- train in groups and to train with coaches who are not part of their household/extended household
- access facilities (for example swimming pools, boxing gyms, weight-lifting gyms, squash courts) for the purposes of undertaking training
Elite athletes, coaches and staff who are required to travel for training purposes should also be mindful of the Welsh Government’s travel advice.
NGBs have been advised to ensure all the necessary protocols, policies and procedures in place in preparation for further cohorts of athletes to resume training when the time is right, with reference to the recommendations in the relevant sections of this guidance. This work has been undertaken by relevant NGBs and the resumption of training by additional cohorts of elite athletes is being considered by Sport Wales on a case-by-case basis.
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 gradual safe return and to determine the impact of easing restrictions. It noted that it may have been some time before multi-participant activities could resume, including outdoors, although outdoor individual sports, and sports which can be adapted to be played outdoors whilst taking all reasonable measures to maintain social distancing may be able to return in some form in the first few phases of easing restrictions.
The importance of outdoor facilities and NGBs being given the time they need to prepare for a re-start was stressed, as demand was likely to be high when facilities began to re-open. It was clear that 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 would all be needed.
The group recognised opportunities in relation to easing regulations around driving to exercise that would open up greater access for sports such as golf, angling, horse-riding and canoeing, which were initially restricted in their return by the need to carry equipment. It considered that some car parks may have been able to open safely to help facilitate certain outdoor activities. Consideration was also 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 later phases.
The group has noted the challenges associated with managing spectators, even at smaller, less formal outdoor sporting events, and also the importance of finding ways to accommodate spectators safely without unduly limiting the number of competitors and officials who can gather for play, possibly preventing some activities from going ahead.
Impact of current regulations
Outdoor sports and associated training, especially group activities, are constrained by certain regulations put in place to control the spread of Coronavirus, despite the recent relaxations of restrictions on exercising and gathering outdoors. For example, outdoor gatherings are limited to 30 people, and all reasonable measures must be taken to maintain social distancing unless the gathering is an outdoor team sport. The regulations also allow larger outdoor events to take place as long as they are authorised in writing by the Welsh Ministers, attended by no more than 100 people, and are held in accordance with any conditions specified by the Welsh Ministers. On 21 August, the First Minister announced three small-scale outdoor events would be trialled in Wales and the events were part of a phased approach to the safe reopening of the events industry. The trials, along with what we learn from events being tested in other parts of the United Kingdom, will inform future reviews of the regulations.
The financial viability of some indoor and outdoor venues will be constrained by the physical distancing and reasonable measures requirements and the Welsh Government’s ‘Guidance for Tourism and Hospitality Businesses for a Phased and Safe Re-opening’. . Consequently, despite being allowed to open, some facility owners and operators might choose not to until those restrictions are lifted.
Outdoor sports participation should be restricted to participants exercising in groups of no more than 30 people, conforming to social distancing rules, unless it is an outdoor team sport where it is not always possible to maintain physical distancing – detailed advice on the required controls and mitigations in place in these circumstances are provided in the ‘Outdoor Team Sports – A Framework for Developing Bespoke Guidance’ section later in this document.. Venues are 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.
To avoid increasing the burden on the NHS and the emergency services, we continue to advise people not to take unnecessary risks while exercising or taking part in any activity. For watersports, we advise people to consider the RNLI’s essential lifeguard and safety advice on water activities at the beach, on the coast or at sea.
Where it was anticipated that some activities may have initially become permissible on a limited or adapted basis, while certain restrictions remained in place, we advised sports, clubs and facilities to consider whether and how they might return to inclusive training and / or play on that basis (e.g. maintaining distancing, preventing or limiting actual contact, eliminating or minimising use of shared equipment etc.).
Sports or clubs that have been considering the potential return of events that make use of natural and outdoor cultural sites with public access (e.g. triathlons, running events) were also advised to refer to separate guidance on the reopening of those 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.
The recent changes to guidance on social distancing for young children are discussed in the section ‘Guidance for sports, clubs and facilities’.
Indoor sports and leisure facilities
The group initially highlighted that there should be no changes to the restrictions on the use of indoor sporting and leisure facilities in the short-term, noting that indoor facilities used by the general public were likely to be the last to return. There were significant, complex issues relating to the challenges of easing lockdown for sporting facilities that needed further consideration. These included the critical need to open in a Coronavirus safe manner that avoids the further spread of infection, and also the need for staff training (e.g. on physical distancing measures, new cleaning chemicals / regimes).
It was stressed that most facilities would need a 2-3 week notice period to reopen in a safe manner, particularly swimming pools. It was acknowledged that clarity would be needed on mass participation (e.g. guidance on numbers allowed in a building at any one time). Additionally 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 well be limited in practice as many facilities may not be in a position to re-open until the green phase.
There were commercial viability concerns regarding reopening, with social distancing measures likely to cause a significant reduction in income, although areas could be reutilised to maximise distancing. This would be especially challenging for smaller venues and clubs, some of whom would also have lost key income generation opportunities from annual events which had to be cancelled. The furlough scheme extension was considered vital for the survival of the leisure industry. Consumer and staff confidence to return to facilities was crucial and their expectations would need to be addressed, especially an understanding that operating hours may need to change. Consideration would also need to be given to standard guidance for facilities managers and users. Clarity was also required on Test, Trace, Protect to ensure it is mobilised effectively, and on what each venue would need to do to assist with this strategy. Advice would be required on medical protocols, and access to personal protective equipment (PPE) was also a consideration.
It was agreed that a centralised hub would 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.
The group welcomed the re-opening of indoor leisure facilities from 10 August, but expressed concern that the limit of 30 on gathering to exercise would make many sessions unworkable and prevent them offering some activities that could be run safely. Additional clarity was also required about the extent to which the relaxation of social distancing for children under 11 could reasonably be applied in indoor settings.
Impact of current regulations
From 10 August swimming pools, indoor fitness studios, gyms, spas and indoor leisure centres were able to re-open. From the same date, exercise with others, in a gathering of no more than 30 people, at a fitness studio, gym, swimming pool, other indoor leisure centre or facility or any other open premises was also allowed.
Indoor sports and associated training, especially group activities, are constrained by certain regulations put in place to control the spread of Coronavirus. For example, gatherings for exercise are limited to 30 people and all reasonable measures must be taken to maintain social distancing. Further guidance on the definition of an indoor space in the context of the 30 people limit for gatherings is provided later in this document, in the ‘Principles to prepare for safe management of indoor and outdoor facilities’ section.
The financial viability of some indoor venues will be constrained by the physical distancing requirements and the Welsh Government’s ‘Guidance for Tourism and Hospitality Businesses for a Phased and Safe Re-opening’. Consequently, despite being allowed to open, some facility owners and operators might choose not to until these restrictions are lifted.
In planning for the reopening of indoor facilities, 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). Clubs, coaches and trainers or instructors should also prepare risk assessments and consider the guidance below for Sports, Clubs and Facilities, consulting with their local indoor facility owners and providers when preparing for the resumption of their sports.
Supported by Sport Wales and the Welsh Sports Association, members of the indoor sport and leisure facility operators group have now collaborated to create and launch the Welsh Leisure Hub. Operators can register via the preceding link to request access to the Hub. The best practice protocols and other material hosted on the Hub should be read alongside this guidance
UK Active, Swim Wales, Torfaen Leisure Trust and others have also produced detailed guidance and resources for their sectors, designed to conform with and complement this guidance. This can also be found on the Welsh Leisure Hub.
The recent changes to guidance on social distancing for young children are discussed in the Section 4, ‘Guidance for sports, clubs and facilities’.
Guidance for sports, clubs and facilities
A limited return to exercise, sport and physical activity is now possible within the current Coronavirus health regulations. A summary of the latest regulations and guidelines relating to exercise is provided at Section 2.
Obligations on businesses, owners and operators of premises
Indoor businesses, and other indoor premises open to the public, must continue to take all reasonable measures to keep people 2 metres apart whether on, or waiting to enter, premises, other than those who are in the same household or extended household.
However, as more types of businesses and premises reopen, we have introduced additional requirements that businesses must also take in order to minimise the risk of exposure to coronavirus.
These include maintaining hygiene standards and limiting close face-to-face interaction, wherever reasonable. We have also introduced a duty to provide information to those entering or working on premises about how to minimise exposure.
Where it is not reasonable to ensure a 2 metres distance is adhered to (e.g. where disabled customers might require assistance to access activities on an equal basis), there is also the additional duty to take any other reasonable measures to minimise risk of exposure, which might include additional protective measures, putting physical barriers in place or rearranging the layout and furniture to minimise close face-to-face contact. It might also include ceasing to carry out certain activities (e.g. where they would promote close or face-to-face contact and the risk cannot, therefore, be minimised) or closing a part of a premises (e.g. where the structure or layout prevents reasonable adaptations for mitigating measures to be implemented). More guidance on measures that should be taken to minimise the risk of exposure to coronavirus in workplaces and premises open to the public is available here.
As part of the 21 day review process and based the scientific evidence which shows the risk of transmission is lower in children, the First Minister announced on 31 July that guidance would be updated to relax the position on children under 11 maintaining a 2m distance from each other and from adults. However, this does not mean that children under 11 are no longer subject to other restrictions on minimising contacts. Instead the guidance is simply a realistic balance of risk for those who live with and care for these children, who routinely are likely to need physical contact as part of everyday care. This age group must still observe the social restrictions on meeting others indoors who are not part of their household, or extended household, and the maximum number of 30 people permitted to gather outside. It is still up to parents to assess and evaluate the risks of their children’s family and social contacts. The advice is clear that minimising contacts and mixing between people reduces transmission of COVID-19.
It is recognised that for younger children, the emphasis will be on separating groups as it is accepted that they cannot socially distance from adults or from each other, therefore consistent group settings provide an additional protective measure. Maintaining distinct contact groups that do not mix makes it quicker and easier, in the event of a positive case, to identify those who may need to self-isolate and to keep that number as low as possible.
However, young children can still transmit the virus, so sports, clubs and facilities should still exercise good judgement; programming and running activities so as to keep close contact to a minimum wherever possible and taking care to also ensure that all other mitigations are in place.
The following section provides high-level guidance on the safe resumption of sport, within the constraints of current regulations. 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. 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.
- Activities requiring people to gather outdoors (for any purpose), or indoors for exercise, must be limited to gatherings of no more than 30. Larger outdoor events to take place as long as they are authorised in writing by the Welsh Ministers, attended by no more than 100 people, and are held in accordance with any conditions specified by the Welsh Ministers.
- 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. All participants should self-declare that:
- They do not currently have symptoms of COVID-19 (new persistent dry cough, fever, loss of or change to sense of taste or smell)
- They have not had a positive test for COVID-19 or onset of symptoms of COVID-19 in the last 10 days. (Individuals who have completed their period of isolation (10 days) and have no remaining symptoms (other than a dry cough or loss of taste or smell which can last for some time) may return to normal activities)
- No member of their household has had symptoms of COVID-19 or has tested positive for COVID-19 in the last 14 days
- They have not been contacted by a contact tracer from the Test, Trace and Protect Programme and told to isolate in the last 14 days as a contact of someone with confirmed COVID-19.
- They have not returned from a country outside of the UK in the last 14 days, other than those on the exempt list.
The Welsh Government ‘Coronavirus Control Plan’, published on 18th August 2020 comprehensively sets out further requirements and expectations of businesses (such as retail and other organisations that manage premises or provide services) in an incident or outbreak control situation, involving as necessary: Local Authorities, Environmental Health Officers, Health Boards, partner agencies, Public Health Wales, Food Standards Agency, The Health and Safety Executive and, of course, Welsh Government itself. Face coverings may be required to be used in more settings as part of a planned response to any incident or outbreak, or if transmission increases. This change would be part of a package of measures we might introduce in a particular area and will be lifted when the situation improves and is no longer proportionate on public health grounds.
Regular updates on the response: Coronavirus (COVID-19).
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.
The Coronavirus officer appointed by a club or facility that falls under the remit of a specific NGB will additionally be responsible for ensuring that the Coronavirus medical officer of the relevant NGB is informed of any incidences of a known or suspected case of Coronavirus occurring and incidences of an athlete returning to the training or play environment from isolation due to suspected or confirmed cases of Coronavirus or other Coronavirus related reasons. The data collected will be personal data and, under the GDPR the Coronavirus officer will be the data controller for that data. This means you they certain legal obligations in handling that data and will need to be satisfied that they are complying with the GDPR so as to protect the privacy of staff and athletes. Welsh Government guidance on keeping records and more detailed Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO) Guidance sets out the manageable steps that you can take to comply with data protection law.
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 It should be noted that Regulation 12 of the Health Protection (Coronavirus Restrictions) (No. 2) (Wales) Regulations 2020 requires reasonable measures to be taken to minimise the risk of exposure to coronavirus on premises open to the public and on any premises where work takes place, as well as to minimise the spread of coronavirus by those who have been on the premises. One reasonable measure is collecting contact information from each person at the premises or, in relation to persons from the same household, from one of them, and retaining it for 21 days for the purpose of providing it to the Welsh Ministers or to a public health officer upon either’s request. For swimming pools, indoor fitness studios, gyms, spas or other indoor leisure centres or facilities, it is a legal requirement to collect and retain contact information for 21 days, and in exceptional circumstances, for a longer period, e.g. where police ask for information 20 days after collection. Further guidance on keeping records and test, trace and protect can be found here.
- 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, particularly journeys on public transport where the use of face coverings is mandatory, and face-to-face contact;
- considering quarantine periods for travel to/from other countries and who is exempt from self-isolation requirements;
- 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; and
- recognising that communication, training, and appropriate equipment are significant factors in helping to reduce risk.
- Training for sport and leisure operators / coaches and clubs relating to Covid Awareness and Duty of Care training, relating to the Welsh Government Coronavirus Regulations are available through the Welsh Sports Association.
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; and
- Support the NGB’s Coronavirus officer with any medical aspects of the risk assessment and mitigation process, and similarly advise the Coronavirus officers appointed by any club or facility falling under the remit of that NGB.
- 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 professional, working with a set of protocols defined in the risk assessment mitigation plan and signed off by the medical officer.
- Athletes should all be made fully aware by clubs/sporting facilities of what is required of them if they suspect they have COVID-19, or are tested and confirmed to have COVID-19, or someone in their household is suspected of having or is confirmed as having COVID-19. In any of those instances they need to remain at home and self-isolate for the required self-isolation period.
- 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) should only start exercising when they feel well enough to do so and should seek up-to-date guidance on steps needed to return to the training or play environment before resuming strenuous exercise.
- Should a 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 be immediately isolated at the training venue and required to return home to self-isolate and follow the Welsh Government’s self-isolation guidelines, and apply for a Coronavirus test. The designated Coronavirus officer for the club, facility or NGB responsible for the training or play activity at which the known or suspected case occurred should be immediately informed if they have not been involved with identifying and isolating the case at the training venue.
- The data collected on any suspected or confirmed athlete will be personal data and, under the GDPR the Coronavirus officer will be the data controller for that data. There are certain legal obligations in handling that data and the Coronavirus officer will need to be satisfied that they are complying with the GDPR so as to protect the privacy of staff and athletes. Welsh Government guidance on keeping records and more detailed Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO) Guidance sets out the manageable steps that you can take to comply with data protection law. 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.
- 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.
- For swimming pools, indoor fitness studios, gyms, spas or other indoor leisure centres or facilities, it is a legal requirement to collect and retain contact information for 21 days, and in exceptional circumstances, for a longer period, e.g. where police ask for information 20 days after collection. Further guidance on keeping records and test, trace and protect can be found here.
- Athletes or staff who had previously been ‘shielding’ on medical grounds should continue to follow Welsh Government advice. This permits them to leave home for any reason, including exercise , but they should closely follow the social distancing rules. These individuals can therefore return to organised training or play as long as they are satisfied the training venues are COVID-19 secure and all reasonable measures are put in place to protect them and limit any risk of them contracting Coronavirus. They can also now go to work (if they cannot work from home) as long as the business is COVID secure (has taken reasonable measures to minimise risk to employees).
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’s 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. Note - from 27 July 2020 face coverings will be compulsory when travelling by public transport in Wales.
- 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.
- Where multiple activities are taking place at an indoor venue (e.g. within a multi-purpose leisure centre), allowable gatherings should not exceed 30 people in total within each separately controllable space in the venue. For example, simultaneous gatherings of no more than 30 people each would be allowable within a swimming pool, a gym, a sports hall and a changing room inside a leisure centre, subject to the operator being satisfied that customer flow can be managed to ensure people remain socially distant in transit within the building and in common areas.
- 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;
- Adoption of one-way foot traffic through core thoroughfares if at all possible;
- 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 (e.g. new arrangements if sharing of workstations and associated equipment/utensils exists, whereby thorough and increased frequency of cleaning in between use by different members of staff is introduced, to provide staff reassurance).
- 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. It should be noted that swimming pools, indoor fitness studios, gyms, spas or other indoor leisure centres or facilities, it is a legal requirement to collect and retaining contact information for 21 days, and in exceptional circumstances, for a longer period, e.g. where police ask for information 20 days after collection. Further guidance on keeping records and test, trace and protect can be found here.
- 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
You should implement 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 using the facilities, or staff member, who has since tested positive for Coronavirus. It should be noted that swimming pools, indoor fitness studios, gyms, spas or other indoor leisure centres or facilities, it is a legal requirement to collect and retaining contact information for 21 days, and in exceptional circumstances, for a longer period, e.g. where police ask for information 20 days after collection. Further guidance on keeping records and test, trace and protect can be found here.
- 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.
- Most air conditioning systems do not need adjustment, however where systems serve multiple buildings, or you are unsure, advice should be sought from your heating ventilation and air conditioning (HVAC) engineers or advisers.
- For fully mechanical centralised air-conditioning systems, which both deliver and extract air from multiple rooms it is best practice to avoid recirculation of air. All centralised mechanical ventilation systems should have the facility to turn off recirculation and use only a fresh air supply.
- Employers are required to ensure an adequate supply of fresh air through natural or mechanical ventilation and this has not changed.
- In some cases, general ventilation can be improved by opening doors etc. but HSE is not proposing to issue additional guidance on the subject. Those in control of premises retain a legal duty (see Regulation 6 covers ventilation) to ensure effective ventilation
- For mechanical systems in individual rooms, where recirculation modes enable higher rates of supply of fresh air to be provided to a space, for example by the prevention of cold draughts, then these devices should be allowed to operate.
- Fans would obviously recirculate the current air, so wouldn’t be advised.
- Checking whether you need to service or adjust ventilation systems, for example, so that they do not automatically reduce ventilation levels due to lower than normal occupancy levels.
- Maintaining good ventilation in the work environment. For example, opening windows and doors frequently, where possible.
There is advice available for building services, particularly around ventilation of buildings, both in use and when returning to buildings which have been closed. It can be accessed from the Health and Safety Executive, the Chartered Institution of Building Services Engineers, The Building Engineers Services Association, and REHVA.
- Where mains water has been turned off or unused since the close of the premises at lockdown, when it is reconnected it will need running through to flush away any microbiological or chemical residues built up while the water supply was disconnected. Swimming pools, water tanks etc. will need to be cleaned and refilled after the water supply has been flushed.
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;
- Provision of automated soap dispensers in washrooms if possible
- Minimising use of portable toilets; and
- Sufficient provision of automated hand sanitising dispensers in public places.
- Where catering is provided, consider mandating contactless or at least card payment at till points, to avoid handling cash, and frequent cleaning of card machine where keypad use has been required. Also ensure the two metre social distancing between queuing customers, and also between servers and customers when food or drink is handed over.
Outdoor team sports – a framework for developing bespoke guidance
On 31 July, the First Minister announced that from 3 August people can meet outdoors in groups up to 30, as long as all reasonable measures are taken to maintain social distancing.
This template guidance framework for organised outdoor activities (originally introduced on 13 July), remains valid as it covers activities such as team sports, where it is not always possible to maintain physical distancing. It describes the circumstances in which these activities can be considered. All reasonable measures must be taken to minimise and mitigate any risks of exposure to coronavirus, including reducing face to face interaction and ceasing activities, and activities are to be overseen by each sport’s national governing body.
Within this section of the guidance, the phrase ‘outdoor team sports’ should be taken as meaning ‘outdoor team sports or activities where it is not possible to maintain physical distancing at all times’. Where this is possible, an outdoor activity of no more than 30 people can proceed without reference to this section of the guidance.
The Welsh Government recognises the vital role sport and physical activity plays in ensuring physical and mental health. The return of outdoor team sport is an exciting moment for the many people across Wales who use this activity as their exercise of choice and gain the multiple physical, mental and social benefits of playing.
This return must be made as safe as possible, which is why the Welsh Government is sharing this guidance and sport governing bodies in Wales will be preparing thorough plans of their own. It is recognised that risk in sport cannot be completely eradicated, but with caution and care, risks can be reduced and the benefits of team sport enjoyed fully again.
It should be remembered that COVID-19 can be transmitted not just through close proximity, but also through touching surfaces. Both are relevant outside gameplay too, as participants congregate, prepare, and socialise. Equal attention must therefore be paid to this full range of risks.
The purpose of this document is to outline the necessary mitigations required to enable the return of outdoor team sport. The framework outlined below is designed to minimise the transmission risk whilst taking part in recreational team sport and enable participants to make an informed decision about their own risk.
Outdoor team sports may take place but it is advised that it only takes place if:
- The activity consists of no more than 30 persons;
- This guidance is fully implemented by the relevant national governing body (NGB)*;
- That NGB provides an action plan for the sport, with activity taking place under the NGB’s oversight and following its advice.
The mitigations allow for the 2 metre physical distancing rules to be breached in the narrow circumstances required by each sport during competitive training or play, but only if the criteria above are met.
* These requirements (i.e., to implement this guidance appropriately) apply equally to any organised outdoor activity outside the direct oversight of a sport NGB – e.g., an activity organised by a business, a public body, a charitable, benevolent or philanthropic institution, or a club or political organisation. In these situations the organising body is responsible for implementing this guidance. Section 4 of the document entitled, ‘Guidance for sports, clubs and facilities’ provides more information on the preparations required.
Sport action plans and guidance
Each individual sport will need to develop an action plan and any related guidance, demonstrating its mitigations (taking into account the requirements and advice set out in this guidance), how it plans to operate, and any adaptations required. The sport specific action plan and risk mitigation proposal must recognise that practice may need to be adapted or curtailed and this information communicated to participants swiftly, if the overall threat level or community prevalence of COVID-19, dictates.
Each sport will provide an assessment of the transmission risk that a return to competitive recreational activity represents based on three key variables:
Droplet transmission: The risk associated with each action in an activity based on duration and proximity of participants. By using the framework, sports can determine the risk of actions in their matchplay environment – anything, for example, from tackling, to bowling, to re-start – which will then determine the overall level of risk of taking part in that sport.
Fomite transmission: The risk associated with the handling and transfer of equipment in the sport.
Population: The number of participants likely to take part in the proposed activity plus known risk factors of participants with underlying health conditions or high risk groups, who wish to participate (please refer to the Welsh Government’s guidance on shielding and on people at increased risk from coronavirus.
Based on this overall risk profile some recreational sports will be lower risk than others and better suited to return to competitive play earlier with or without adaptation.
All sports should ensure that sessions comply with the relevant National Governing Body Safeguarding Policies and Procedures and conduct a thorough risk assessment which should be included as part of the action plan. Particular consideration needs to be given to children and young people under the age of 18 and vulnerable adults.
Key principles - prior to activity
Each club must only return to sport when they have the appropriate measures in place as developed by the NGB in accordance with the Welsh Government guidance - Sport, recreation and leisure: guidance for a phased return.
All recreational clubs must develop a COVID-19 plan and risk assessment prior to activity. Preparation should include those in charge of the session taking part in specific training, as necessary, and participants being asked to consider if their underlying health, may caution against participation. Please refer to the relevant section of the ‘Guidance for sports, clubs and facilities’ for more information to help you prepare.
Social distancing principles must be adhered to at all times whilst people are gathered for the organised outdoor activity, other than in the narrow circumstances required by each sport during competitive play, if the criteria above are met.
Test, Trace, Protect
NGBs and clubs should ensure that activity organisers are aware of the Welsh Government’s Test, Trace, Protect strategy and of their 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 officials and players in the recreational sport setting. It should be noted that swimming pools, indoor fitness studios, gyms, spas or other indoor leisure centres or facilities, it is a legal requirement to collect and retain contact information for 21 days, and in exceptional circumstances, for a longer period, e.g. where police ask for information 20 days after collection. Further guidance on keeping records and test, trace and protect can be found here.
Activity organisers should support Test, Trace, Protect by collecting information on participants at both training and matches. Each sport / NGB will determine in their action plan or guidance the process their sport will go through to enable Test, Trace, Protect efforts to happen, by clearly explaining the way in which all information on participants will be collected at both training and matches.
Pre-attendance official symptom check
All players, officials, volunteers and spectators must undergo a self-assessment for any COVID-19 symptoms. No-one should leave home to participate in sport if they, or someone they live with, is symptomatic , has been tested positive for the virus - or suspects they may have been exposed to the virus. They should immediately self-isolate (as well as their household and extended household), follow the Welsh Government’s self-isolation guidelines, and apply for a Coronavirus test.
Activity organisers should ensure, upon arrival, that participants have completed a self-assessment for COVID-19 symptoms. Entry should be refused to anyone who is unable to provide assurance that they have done so and that to the best of their knowledge it is safe for them to take part. Anyone refused entry on this basis must be instructed to immediately self-isolate and to follow the steps set out above.
Participants will be made aware of any increased risk associated with taking part in activity, based on the assessment undertaken by the governing or organising body. They should also be strongly advised to follow Welsh Government advice on how to protect yourself and others from coronavirus outside the sports setting, to reduce the risk to their fellow participants when they do attend.
Travel to training and matches
Participants to be encouraged to follow best practice for travel including minimising use of public transport (but complying with the mandatory use of face coverings where public transport is necessary) and limiting car sharing. Walk or cycle if you can. People from one household and extended household can travel together in a vehicle.
Arrival at venues
Clubs should strictly limit the time spent congregating at a venue before activity begins. Social and physical distancing measures must be applied at such times. Meet-up times should reflect this. This includes arriving changed and ready to begin the warm up, if possible, to minimise time spent waiting.
Key principles - during activity
Social distancing in play
All sports must adhere to social distancing throughout warm-ups and avoid equipment sharing. The sport specific action plan must address the issue of how the sport can best mitigate the risk of social distancing in competitive matches and training.
Having completed the droplet transmission risk assessment each sport may introduce ‘COVID-19 adaptations’ to lower the frequency of activities that cannot be done whilst socially distanced. Avoid unnecessary breaking of social distancing such as pre-game handshakes, huddles, and celebrations.
Social distancing during breaks and post-game
All participants must remain socially distanced during breaks in play with spaced areas for equipment and refreshment storage for each individual including officials and substitutes. Coaching staff and substitutes, should, for example, spread out and avoid sharing a dug out or bench if social distancing cannot be observed.
Water bottles or other refreshment containers, should in no circumstances be shared. Participants are advised to bring their own, in a named container.
After activity participants must maintain social and physical distancing for social interaction.
Use of equipment
Sports should give consideration on how to protect participants in relation to all equipment use and the risk of transmission. Sharing of equipment should be avoided where possible, particularly that used around the head and face e.g. helmets. Where equipment is shared, equipment must be cleaned to the appropriate standard before use according to guidance by another person. Check the latest guidance on cleaning and advice from the Welsh Government.
Participants should take their kit home to wash it themselves, rather than have one person handling a large quantity of soiled materials. Where kit absolutely has to be shared or kept together (e.g. last minute stand-in players, shortage of kit, or an essential club function), each person handling it must wash or sanitise their hands immediately after.
For sports where a common ball needs to be handled by multiple players (e.g. basketball, cricket, football) a risk-reduction plan is required.
Match officials, medics and coaches
Match officials should observe the governing body guidance in the same way as participants are required to. Match officials must remain socially distanced from players where possible during play. Should match officials, and in particular medics, not be able to remain socially distanced due to their role in the sport, their sport should conduct a risk assessment to see if other mitigations may be necessary (e.g. appropriate personal protective equipment).
Adherence to measures
A code of behaviour should be developed by each sport to ensure a commitment for all involved to adhere to COVID-19 adaptations. Match officials will be empowered to ensure measures are adhered to through appropriate sanctions designed by the NGB. Participants must be clear that they are opting in to participating as defined in the sport-specific guidance with regard to risk and risk mitigation.
Injuries during play should still be treated as participant wellbeing is utmost. The best way to protect yourself and others is through rigorous cleaning, personal hygiene and regular hand hygiene. An increased frequency of cleaning and disinfection of all surfaces and equipment, using standard household cleaning and disinfection products, is recommended. Face coverings are also advisable when undertaking treatment.
After contact with an injured participant, clean your hands thoroughly with soap and water or alcohol hand sanitiser at the earliest opportunity. This advice is applicable to all situations, regardless of whether there was close contact or the minimum 2 metre social distancing was maintained. Avoid touching your mouth, eyes and nose.
Physios or their equivalent, should keep a record of each participant they have come into contact with for Test, Trace, Protect purposes.
Supporters and other spectators should be limited at this stage to only those persons who need to attend, e.g. parents or guardians of children who require their attendance for health or safeguarding reasons. All spectators that are not part of a household, or extended household, are to remain socially and physically distanced from each other and from the area of play whilst attending events, including accessing and leaving the venue, use of any facilities and whilst watching game play.
Anyone on the area of play, or closer to it than social distancing rules would permit, will count towards the total number of people considered to be gathered for the organised outdoor activity, where a limit of no more than 30 persons applies.
For sports reliant on third party owned or managed facilities adherence to these guidelines should be worked out collaboratively between club and facility. Facilities operators should refer to the full guidance document guidance for sports, clubs and facilities, which includes principles to prepare for a safe return to training and play, and the safe management of indoor and outdoor facilities.
Movement on site
All venues must have entry and exit and parking arrangements to venues that ensures social distancing can be maintained and that allow for the 2m physical distancing rules to be implemented at all times. They must display the appropriate signage to facilitate at all points throughout the facility and car park, and will:
- implement traffic flow systems where possible and appropriate.
- outline physically distanced areas for teams, officials and spectators.
- ensure that all accessible provision within the site and the facility are available.
Changing rooms and showers
Where possible, players must arrive changed and shower at home. Use of changing and shower facilities is not allowed at this stage. Exceptions may be made where safety and safeguarding measures require their use. E.g. supporting disabled athletes, a child needs a change of clothing etc. This should be considered when planning the activity to ensure all reasonable steps are taken to minimise risk, in line with governing body guidance.
Toilets will need to be opened pre-match, during the match and for 30 minutes following the match. Toilets should be cleaned regularly in line with the information provided in the relevant section “keeping facilities clean” in the Welsh Government guidance for sports, clubs and facilities, and capacity should be managed via entry and exit and to allow for the 2m physical distancing to be maintained.
Participants will be encouraged to refrain from spitting or rinsing out their mouths on or around the playing area.
Clubhouses and hospitality
Venues will only use clubhouses and hospitality facilities in line with Welsh Government guidance on hospitality settings.
If facilities remain closed, exceptions must be made for essential activity such as provision of first-aid or access to essential equipment for the match.
The UK Government has published a team sports risk exposure framework to inform risk mitigation strategies, and proposals to assist in the mitigation of transmission of COVID-19 during sporting activities. National Governing Bodies might find this useful as a template for their own plans but should note that the social distancing requirements in Wales differ from those in England and should be applied if this framework is adopted.
Key pieces of Welsh Government guidance
- Check if you need medical help (symptoms of coronavirus)
- Guidance in individuals who were shielding
- Coronavirus and personal protective equipment (PPE)
- Coronavirus: closure of businesses and premises
- Coronavirus regulations: FAQs
- Coronavirus social distancing guidance
- Guidance on leaving your home and seeing other people: coronavirus
- Face coverings: coronavirus
- Guidance to employers and businesses on COVID-19
- Protect yourself and others from coronavirus
- Self-isolation: stay at home guidance for households with possible coronavirus
- Taking all reasonable measures to maintain physical distancing in the workplace
- Travelling safely (coronavirus): guidance for the public
- Guidance on extended households: coronavirus
- Keeping records of staff, customers, and visitors: test, trace, protect
- Guidance for Tourism and Hospitality Businesses for a Phased and Safe Re-opening