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Sport, children's activities and parties

Not being able to play sports has been tough for many children – and adults! But sports and other activities are possible, depending on the COVID-19 protection level your area is in. You can find out which level you’re in using the checker here.

This page looks at the options for adults, children and young people. You can find out about: 

The drop down menu below summarises what you can do at each level. You can see a more detailed table on the sportscotland website

Help getting active

We all know that playing sports and being active outside helps keep us fit and healthy. This is just as true for children as it is for adults. But it also helps boost kids’ wellbeing by relieving stress, improving their mood, and upping their energy levels.

To help you find things to get their kids out and about, why not check out our Get into Summer page to help you find a range of free and discounted activities for kids of all ages to do.

Sport for adults and families

Can we play non-contact sports outdoors?

Whatever level your area is in, you can take part in non-contact outdoor activities like cycling, golf, walking, tennis, fishing and athletics (running and jogging). You can do these sports with people from your own household, or with people from other households depending on the rules in your area – our page on meeting other households has more information. You must maintain physical distancing from anyone aged 12 and over (except in level 0, where you don’t need to distance from people in your group), and you shouldn't share sports equipment. Our page on outdoor activities has ideas for games you can play with other households that don't involve contact or shared equipment.

In levels 0-3 you can also have an organised outdoor session with a personal trainer or coach, in a group of up to 30, or take part in organised non-contact sport, following guidance for that particular sport. In level 4 this is restricted to 15 people, including up to 2 coaches.

It's important to use your judgement and only take part in an activity if you can stay 2 metres apart from others and not put yourself or others at risk. Don’t take any unnecessary risks that could result in the need for medical care or emergency services support. You can find more guidance on how to take part safely on the sportscotland website.

Can I play outdoor contact sports like football, basketball or rounders?

In levels 0-2, adults can take part in organised outdoor contact sport.

At level 3, all organised activity is allowed outdoors except adult contact sport. 

If you’re in a level 4 area, only non-contact outdoor sports are allowed. However, under 18s can take part in organised outdoor contact sports, following guidance from the relevant sports bodies, available on the sportscotland website (see ‘can children take part in organised sports?’ below). For 12-17 year olds,  numbers are restricted to 15 people, including 2 coaches.

Are outdoor sports facilities like skate parks open?

Yes, you can use unmanned, open facilities like outdoor skate parks, outdoor tennis courts or cycle pump tracks, as long as you stick to the physical distancing and hygiene rules.

Can we travel to get exercise or to play sport?

If you need to travel to get exercise or play sport, you should follow the travel rules for your area. You can find out more about travel restrictions on the Scottish Government website and more about travelling safely on the Transport Scotland website.

Remember only people from the same household should be sharing a car (unless exemptions apply).

Levels 0-2

In levels 0,1 and 2 you must not travel to an area in level 3 or 4 unless for a permitted reason.

Children and young people under 18 can still travel into and out of level 3 and 4 areas to take part in organised sport and physical activity. However, it’s recommended that all training and competition takes place locally if possible. 

Level 3

If you live in a level 3 area you mustn’t travel into a level 0-2 or level 4 area unless it’s for a permitted reason.

People in a level 3 or 4 area should stay local, including travelling no further than they need to in order to find a safe, non-crowded place for exercise, recreation or meeting up outdoors.

Children and young people under 18 can still travel into, and out of, level 3 areas to level 0-2 areas to take part in organised sport and physical activity. However, it’s recommended that all training and competition takes place locally if possible. 

Level 4

If you live in a level 4 area you mustn’t leave your local authority area unless it’s for a permitted reason and you should try to travel within your local authority area as little as possible.

People in a level 3 or 4 area should stay local, including travelling no further than they need to in order to find a safe, non-crowded place for exercise, recreation or meeting up outdoors.

Under 18s can travel outside their local authority area if necessary to take part in organised sport, for example, if they belong to a club that is a little bit outside the local authority area that they live in.

Although public transport is for essential travel only, as there is an exemption for travelling for sport for under 18s, you can travel by public transport if you need to.

Can we go to a bowling alley?

If you live in an area that’s in level 0 or 1 you can go to a bowling alley. However indoor bowling alleys are closed in level 2-4 areas. If you are able to go bowling, remember to stick to the rules around the number of households you can meet up with.

Can we play indoor sports?

Adults can only play organised indoor contact sports if they live in a level 0 area.

However, in level 0-3 areas, children under 18 can play organised contact sports indoors, following guidance from sportscotland. The sportscotland website has more information.

If you’re in a level 4 area, all indoor sports facilities will be shut.

What about gyms and swimming pools?

In level 0-2, gyms and swimming pools are permitted to open as usual, with enhanced hygiene and physical distancing rules in place. If you live in a level 3 area, gyms won’t be running exercise classes for adults, and in level 4 areas gyms and swimming pools will be closed altogether.

If you live in a level 0-3 area and are going to the gym or swimming pool, remember you must stick to physical distancing requirements and any other rules the venue asks you to follow, including rules around meeting other households.

Play parks and soft play

Can we take the kids to the play park?

Play parks are open. Children under 12 don’t need to maintain physical distancing when playing with their friends. However, children over 12 should still stick to physical distancing rules (except in level 0, where you don’t need to distance from people in your group). Our page on coronavirus guidelines for children explains more. Remember to stick to the rules on meeting up with other people for your area.

If you’re worried about staying safe when you go to the play park, here are some tips to keep everybody safe:

  • Try to visit at times that are likely to be less busy, such as early in the morning.
  • If the play park is crowded, come back at another time.
  • Make sure you always have hand sanitiser with you, to clean your kids’ hands before and after they’re finished playing (although children under 1 shouldn't use alcohol-based hand sanitiser).
  • If you’re having a picnic, it’s best to eat before the kids go to the play park, to be on the safe side. You could also wipe the equipment with antibacterial wipes before your kids touch it.
  • Tell the kids to try not to touch their faces with their hands while they’re playing.
  • Don’t forget that you should use hand sanitiser too if you’re pushing the kids on the swing! Unless you need to help your wee ones, try not to touch any of the play park equipment and keep your distance so there’s more room for the kids.

What about soft play?

Soft play in level 0-1 areas can open, as long as they follow the guidance from Scottish Government. Unfortunately indoor soft play centres in other areas can’t open just now. This includes soft play areas in cafés and other venues.

Organised sports and outdoor activities for children

Can children take part in organised sports?

Levels 0-3

If you live in an area that’s in level 0-3, under 18s can take part in outdoor and indoor contact sports run by a sports organisation or facility. Anyone over 12 must physically distance when not playing sport. The sportscotland website has more information and guidance.

Level 4

If you’re in a level 4 area, organised sport and exercise for under-12s can continue as long as it follows all guidance, including sport-specific guidance agreed between the Scottish Governing Body of Sport and sportscotland. Children can also travel outside their local authority area if necessary to take part in organised sport, for example, if they belong to a club that is a little bit outside the local authority area that they live in.

Young people aged 12-17 can take part in organised outdoor non-contact sports in groups of up to 15 (including up to 2 coaches).

Is it safe for children to play contact sports?

Sports organisations have been given guidance on how best to keep everyone safe when playing sport. The guidance differs depending on the sport, and in some cases may mean the way the sport is played will change a bit, to keep everyone safe. You can find the latest guidance on the sportscotland website. All clubs will also have to undertake risk assessments to ensure they are able to operate safely.

In addition, it’s also important that when they are attending a session, your kids should:

  • wash their hands before and after the activity – make sure to pack hand sanitiser and wipes with their sports kit
  • listen to and follow the instructions they’re given by the adults running the session
  • don’t share any equipment except the equipment they’re using to play the sport. For example, they shouldn’t share water bottles, towels or protective clothing.

Do children need to physically distance?

Where organised contact sport is allowed, children over 12 still need to physically distance before and after their activity.

In all cases, the adults running the sessions should attempt to physically distance from children aged 12 and over but we recognise this may not always be possible. They should ensure they physically distance from any other adults there, for example, other instructors or parents who come along to pick up and drop off their children. And in all cases it’s really important that everyone keeps their hands clean and doesn’t touch any surfaces or equipment they don’t need to touch.

Can children take part in other organised outdoor activities?

Organised sessions that take place outdoors can open at all levels. This includes:

  • play sessions
  • physical activities such as playgroups
  • groups like Cubs and Brownies
  • art, dance and drama classes
  • faith-based activities.

Children aged 12 and over still need to physically distance from each other and the adults running the sessions, but children under 12 do not.

How many people can take part in organised outdoor activities?

The household restriction doesn’t apply to most organised activities. This includes activities like Brownies and Cubs and dance classes. There are no set limits for how many children can take part in organised outdoor activities or how many adults can attend or facilitate, as long as there is room for everyone aged 12 and over to keep a safe distance.

Does this mean children can get together for a kick about in the park?

Unless you’re in level 0, where it’s no longer necessary to physically distance from other people in your group, the activity has to be led by an organisation or service provider for children over 12. This is because where a sport activity is organised, those aged over 12 are not required to be physically distanced in areas at level 2 and below when on the field of play, as the organisers can ensure everyone stays safe in a more controlled way, whereas in a less controlled environment like the park, it’s harder to do this. In levels 1-4, children 12 and over should still be physically distancing from others in their group.

Do children need to wear face coverings while taking part in outdoor sport or organised play activities?

Children don’t need to wear face coverings when taking part in outdoor organised play activities or sport.

Can children share play equipment?

Under 12s can share play equipment but the adults running the play sessions must ensure that everything is kept clean, and encourage increased hand hygiene and cleaning of surfaces during the sessions. Children 12 and over should avoid sharing equipment if possible, unless it's part of the sport or activity.

Is there a time limit on the sessions?

There’s no time limit on sessions, so it will be up to the organisation to decide how long they run for.

Indoor activities for children and young people

Can children take part in indoor activities?

Unless you live in a level 4 area, indoor activities for children and young people aged 17 and under can take place, following guidance issued by the Scottish Government.

Indoor activities include:

  • organised indoor play and activity clubs held after or before school or in other community locations
  • other before and after school clubs and activities, such as breakfast clubs and private tutoring
  • baby and toddler groups
  • home education and private tuition

The guidance for these different activities varies depending on the activity. However, all organisations or groups must carry out risk assessments and clean premises thoroughly, in line with the guidance, before starting up indoor activities. They should look for ways to make it as difficult as possible for the virus to spread, for example, by:

  • keeping everything very clean
  • providing hand sanitising facilities
  • keeping rooms well ventilated
  • reducing the size of the groups and not mixing groups
  • making the most of outdoor space wherever possible

In addition, groups must keep contact details for everyone who attends, in case they need to be contacted by the Test and Protect service.

If you live in an area with level 4 restrictions, activities can’t take place indoors so will have to move outside.

How many people can take part in organised indoor activities?

The household restriction doesn’t apply to most organised activities. This includes activities like Brownies and Cubs and dance classes. There are no set limits for how many children can take part in organised indoor activities or how many adults can attend or facilitate, as long as there is room for everyone aged 12 and over to keep a safe distance.

If you live in an area with level 4 restrictions, activities can’t take place indoors so will have to move outside.

Will children need to wear face coverings when attending indoor activities?

Children aged 5 and over may need to wear face coverings when indoors, for example, before or after an activity. The group or club will advise you if this is the case.

Can Brownies, Cubs and other groups run?

In areas in levels 0-3, groups like Brownies and Cubs can run. Sessions can be held inside or outside, as long as they follow guidance from the Scottish Government (see ‘can children take part in indoor activities?’ above). Get in touch with your local group to find out what’s happening in your area.

If you live in an area with level 4 restrictions, activities can’t take place indoors but can continue outdoors.

Can baby and toddler groups run?

In areas in levels 0-3, baby and toddler groups can hold sessions outside or inside, as long as they follow guidance from the Scottish Government (see ‘can children take part in indoor activities?’ above). In level 4, sessions can only be held outside.

There are no set limits for how many babies, toddlers and carers can take or how many adults can facilitate, as long as there is room for everyone aged 12 and over to keep a safe distance.

The organisation running the groups needs to ensure that strict hygiene measures are followed, such as thoroughly cleaning all toys and play equipment between each use. You can read the full guidance from the Scottish Government here.

Can dance and drama classes run?

In areas in levels 0-3, dance and drama classes can take place inside or outside as long as they follow guidance from the Scottish Government (see ‘can children take part in indoor activities?’ above).

If you live in an area with level 4 restrictions, activities can’t take place indoors but can still take place outside.

Can music and singing groups take place?

Music groups can take place outdoors at all levels and indoors in levels 0-3 following the Scottish Government’s guidance (see ‘can children take part in indoor activities?’ above). However, playing woodwind or brass instruments is more risky than playing stringed instruments or percussion so teachers or organisers will need to have extra precautions in place to keep everyone safe.

Likewise singing is a high risk activity for passing on the virus, so it’s recommended that singing indoors, as the main part of any activity, only takes place indoors for younger children (under 8) from level 3 and under 12s from level 2. In levels 1 and 0, everyone can take part in singing activities indoors. You can find out more by reading the Scottish Government guidance here.

Can holiday clubs run?

Holiday clubs can run provided they follow the guidance from the Scottish Government (see ‘can children take part in indoor activities?’ above). Regulated childcare can stay open in all of the levels (unless they have to close temporarily due to a very local outbreak). If the holiday club is registered and regulated by the Care Inspectorate they must follow the school age childcare services guidance.

How many groups should my child go to each week?

Although there’s no limit to the number of groups or clubs children can attend, it’s not recommended for children to go to too many as this increases the chances of catching or passing on the virus.

How will I know if my child’s usual clubs or activities are starting up again?

If your child usually attends a club, class or other organised activity, they’ll probably get in touch with you to let you know when they’re starting up. In some cases, the organisers may need to make changes, so times and venues may change. If you don’t hear anything, get in touch with the organisation to check what’s happening.

Can children share play equipment?

Children under 12 can share play equipment but the adults running the play sessions must ensure that everything is kept clean, and encourage increased hand hygiene and cleaning of surfaces during the sessions. Children 12 and over should avoid sharing equipment if possible, unless it's part of the activity.

Is there a time limit for indoor sessions?

The length of each session may have changed, and should be kept to a minimum for indoor activity.

Can my child have a playdate with different friends or have a party with their friends?

Whatever level your area is in, children can get together to play outdoors and can even have small parties outdoors as long as you follow the rules on meeting other people. However, this shouldn’t be seen as an excuse to get lots of children together – try to limit it to a few close friends. Children spending time playing together is important, but it’s also important to be careful. Be aware of how many people your child is seeing, and try to keep the number as low as possible while still letting them have fun.

Remember, you shouldn’t share food between households. Blowing out birthday candles and singing are unfortunately also risk factors for spreading the virus, so should be avoided. We know that this doesn't sound like any fun, but it's important to keep each other safe.

Levels 0-2

In levels 0-2, your child can have a party in your home or in a public place like a café or leisure centre, as long as you stick to the rules on meeting other people.

In levels 1 and 0, parties organised by an entertainer or other service provider can also take place indoors. There is no set limit on the number of people who can attend organised parties as long as there is room for everyone aged 12 and over to safely distance. You can read the Scottish Government’s guidance for parties here.

Levels 3-4

If you’re in level 3 or 4, your child can’t have a playdate or a party with anyone from another household inside a home. However, they can have a party indoors in a public place like a café or leisure centre, as long as you follow the rules on meeting other people.

Bear in mind that if you’re in level 3 or 4 some public places may be shut.