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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 some sports and other activities are now 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.

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

Sport for adults and families

Can I play non-contact sports outdoors?

Yes, 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 stay 2 metres away from anyone aged 12 and over, 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.

You can also have an outdoor session with a personal trainer or coach, in a group of up to 30, or take part in organised non-contact sport in larger numbers, following guidance for that particular sport.

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 contact sports like football, basketball or rounders?

Adults can take part in organised outdoor contact sport in levels 0-2.

Children and young people aged 17 and under can take part in organised outdoor contact sports at levels 0-3, following guidance from the relevant sports bodies, available on the sportscotland website (see ‘can children take part in organised sports?’ below).

If you’re in a level 4 area, only non-contact outdoor sports are allowed.

Are outdoor sports facilities like skate parks reopening?

Yes, you can now 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?

We’re all being advised not to travel in and out of areas that are in levels 3 or 4 unless it’s essential. Travel out of a level 4 area for sport or physical activity is only permitted when undertaking outdoor exercise such as cycling, running, or a golf course that straddles the boundary of two areas and starts and finishes in the same place.
    
People living in level 3 areas should only travel locally (within around 5 miles of their local authority area) to take part in physical activity outdoors.   
    
There is an exemption for under 18 sport. So children and young people under 18 can still travel into, or out of, level 3 areas (to or from level 0-2 areas) to take part in sport and physical activity. However, it is recommended that all training and competition takes place locally.

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.

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).

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 I play indoor sports?

Adults can only play organised indoor contact sports if they live in a level 0 area, but they can play organised non-contact sport in levels 0-2.

In level 3 areas and above, adults can only exercise on their own or following the rules around meeting other households for their area, so 1 on 1 personal training sessions can still take place.

In level 1-3 areas, children under 18 can play organised contact sports indoors. 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?

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 now open. Children under 12 don’t need to maintain physical distancing when playing with their friends. However, children over 12 should still keep 2 metres apart from each other and from adults – our page on changes to physical distancing 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.

We realise this won’t be the easiest thing, particularly with younger children, but hopefully kids will put up with a bit of hand sanitiser to get to go climbing and swinging again!

What about going to soft play?

The good news is, soft play in level 0-1 areas can now 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 for children

Can children take part in organised sports?

If you live in area that’s in level 0-3, children up to the age of 17 can take part in outdoor sports run by a sports organisation, where there is guidance agreed with sportscotland.

If you live in an area that’s in level 0-3, children under 18 can also play organised contact sports indoors. Anyone over 12 must physically distance in these spaces when not playing sport. The sportscotland website has more information.

If you’re in a level 4 area, only non-contact outdoor sports are allowed.

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. Any guidance will be added here once it is agreed. 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?

Organisations running other outdoor organised play or outdoor physical activities such as playgroups are open, but must adhere to strict safety guidance.

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. 

For these activities, the maximum number of people who can take part in organised outdoor activities depends on the level your area is in:

  • Level 0: 30 people
  • Level 1: 30 people
  • Level 2: 25 people
  • Level 3: 20
  • Level 4: 15 people

There should be no more than 50% parents or carers (18+) at any one time, where they attend an activity to support their child. Facilitators do not count towards these numbers. The session can only have the maximum numbers of people attending if it’s safe to do, for example, if there’s enough room for everyone to physically distance where appropriate. 

Under 5s do not count to overall numbers.

For levels 2-4, these numbers are lower if the activity takes place indoors (see ‘How many people can take part in organised indoor activities?’ below.

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

No, the activity has to be led by an organisation or service provider. This is because 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. Also, children 12 and over should still be physically distancing.

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

Children won’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 or your child usually attend a group like this, get in touch with them to see when they are restarting. Bear in mind that some groups may not be able to reopen straightaway, as they may need to make changes to the way they run to follow the safety guidance.

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. 

For these activities, the maximum number of people who can take part in organised outdoor indoor activities depends on the level your area is in:

  • Level 0: 30 people
  • Level 1: 30 people
  • Level 2: 20 people
  • Level 3: 15 10
  • Level 4: Indoor activities not permitted

There should be no more than 50% parents or carers (18+) at any one time, where they attend an activity to support their child. Facilitators do not count towards these numbers. The session can only have the maximum numbers of people attending if it’s safe to do, for example, if there’s enough room for everyone to physically distance where appropriate.

Under 5s do not count to overall numbers.

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 start up again?

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 start up again?

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

The maximum numbers allowed are:

  • Level 0: 30 people
  • Level 1: 30 people
  • Level 2: 20 people (25 people if the session takes place outdoors)
  • Level 3: 10 people (15 people if the session takes place outdoors)
  • Level 4: Sessions cannot take place indoors (15 people if the session takes place outdoors)

Levels 0-2 (indoors)

There should be no more than 50% of the maximum numbers aged 18+ at any one time. Siblings can also attend, where unavoidable, and don’t count towards total numbers or households. The session can only have the maximum numbers of people attending if it’s safe to do, for example, if there’s enough room for everyone to physically distance where appropriate.

Level 3 (indoors)

Up to 10 adults can attend a  baby or toddler group  at level 3 as long as:
all the children in the group are less than 5 years old
there is space for everyone to physically distance
everyone over 5 wears a face covering, except when sitting down.

Siblings can also attend baby groups if you can’t get anyone else to look after them. They don’t count towards the total number of people.

All levels outdoors

For outdoor activities at any level, the maximum number of adults (18+) is 15 as long as:

  • all children are younger than 5
  • there’s space for everyone to physically distance
  • the people going to the group are fairly consistent and don’t change regularly.
     

Can dance classes start up again?

In areas in levels 0-3, dance classes can take place. Classes 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).

If your child usually attends dance classes and you’ve not heard from the organisers, get in touch with them to find out if they’re able to restart.

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

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 aged 11 and under 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 on the 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?

Levels 1-4

If you’re in levels 1-4, your child can’t have a playdate or a party with anyone from another household inside a home.

The only exception to this is that within level 1, people living in Shetland, Orkney and the Western Isles can meet one other household inside their homes, up to a maximum of six people. Children under 12 don’t count towards the total number of people, but they do count towards the number of households. You can read more about this on the Scottish Government website.

It's also recommended that, at the moment, parties don't take place inside premises where organised activities for children and young people can be carried out.

However, your child can have a playdate or party outside or inside a public place as long as you follow the guidance on meeting other households. In places like a cinema, café or bowling alley, there should be no more than 2 households present, and no more than 6 people aged 12 or older. Bear in mind that if your area is in level 3 or 4 some public places may be closed.

Outside the rules are slightly different. There should be no more than 6 people from up to two households present. However, children under 12 do not have to be from these two households and do not count towards the 6 people limit. For children aged 12-17, as long as there is no one 18 or older, then there can be up to 6 children from different households.

There should be no food sharing between households. Anything that has to be done without a face covering is a risk factor for spreading the virus, especially indoors, so things like blowing out birthday candles or singing should be avoided. We know that this doesn't sound like any fun, but it's important to keep each other safe.