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Sport, play and youth activities

Not being able to play sports has been tough for many children – and adults! But as restrictions start to ease, taking part in sport and other outdoor activities is becoming more possible. This page looks at the options for adults and children and young people.

Sport for adults and families

Can I play non-contact sports outdoors?

Yes, everyone 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 up to 4 other households, as long as you there are no more than 15 of you in your group. In addition, 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, as long as you stick to the rules outlined above.

Just because you can play non-contact sports, it doesn’t mean that they’ll always be safe, so 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?

Children up to the age of 17 can take part in contact sports organised by a club (see ‘can children take part in organised sports?’ below).

At the moment, for adults only non-contact sports like golf, hiking and fishing are allowed (see the answer to ‘can I play non-contact sports?' above). Any games like football or basketball that involve more than one person touching the same equipment risk passing on the virus. However, you can still play these sports with members of your own household or extended household. Just remember to stay at least 2 metres away from other people and, if you're in the park, be considerate of other people around you.

Our page on outdoor activities has ideas for games you can play with other households that don't involve contact or shared equipment.

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 outlined above.

Can we drive somewhere to get exercise or to play sport?

Yes, you can drive somewhere to get exercise, but try to avoid places you think may be crowded and if the place you wanted to go is crowded, go somewhere else instead.

Play parks and soft play

Can we take the kids to the play park?

Play parks can now reopen. This is great news for kids who’ve been longing to get back on the swings! And new guidance for children means that under 12s don’t need to maintain physical distancing when playing with their friends. 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.
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?

Unfortunately indoor soft play centres can’t open just now. This includes soft play areas in cafes and other venues.

Organised sports and outdoor activities for children

Can children take part in organised sports?

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. Before your child’s club restarts, they’ll need to complete risk assessments and make any changes in order to operate safely. To start with, your child will just be playing and training within their own club. These changes apply to contact sports such as football and rugby, as long as there is guidance in place.

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. 

Before your child’s activities start up, the organiser should let you know of any changes they’ve made to keep everyone safe. For example, they may need to reduce the number of children that go along to sessions, or change the length of time sessions run for. Your child may need to bring different kit with them, such as their own water bottles, or jumpers and waterproofs! 

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

  • wash their hands regularly – 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. 

Will children need to physically distance?

Children don’t need to physically distance when playing their sport. Your child’s club will let them know what they are allowed to do. However, over 12s will 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 can also reopen. At the moment these organisations must follow the same rules on meeting up outdoors as everyone else – so groups can consist of adults and children from no more than 5 households, and there should be no more than 15 adults and children altogether. As adults can only meet with up to 4 other households a day, there’ll be limits to how many sessions the organisers can run. This is to ensure that everyone stays safe. 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.

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

No, the activity has to be led by an organisation. This is because the organisers can ensure everyone stays safe, whereas in a less controlled environment like the park, it’s harder to do this. So remind your kids of this when they’re heading out to play. Children 12 and over should still be physically distancing when they’re playing out, and only getting together in groups of up to 15, from up to 5 different households at a time.

Does this mean Brownies, Cubs and other groups, can start up again?

It’s possible for groups like Brownies and Cubs to restart, provided they can hold their sessions outside and there are no more than 15 children and adults present, from up to 5 different households. Get in touch with your local group to find out what’s happening in your area. As adults can only meet with up to 4 other households a day, there’ll be limits to how many sessions the organisers can run.

Does this mean baby and toddler groups can start up again?

Likewise, baby and toddler groups can start up again, provided they can hold their sessions outside and there are no more than 15 children and adults present, from up to 5 different households. The organisation running the groups will need to ensure that strict hygiene measure are followed, such as thoroughly cleaning all toys and play equipment between each use. Contact your local group to find out what’s happening. As adults can only meet with up to 4 other households a day, there’ll be limits to how many sessions the organisers can run.

Can dance classes start up again?

Dance classes can start again, provided the classes are held outside and there are no more than 15 children and adults present, from up to 5 different households. If your child usually attends a dance classes and you’ve not heard from the organisers, get in touch with them to find out if they’re able to restart. Bear in mind that an outdoor setting may not be suitable for some classes, and as adults can only meet with up to 4 other households a day, there’ll be limits to how many sessions the organisers can run.

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.

My child doesn’t usually go to an organised sports club or activity but I’d like them to start, what should I do?

If you’d like your child to start a new sport you can check the sportscotland website to find the Scottish Governing Body for the sport you’re interested in, and search for a local club.

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. It’s unlikely they’ll need to wear face coverings to play sport but if they do your sports club will let you know. 

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 sport or activity.

If children can take part in organised outdoor play without physical distancing why not indoors?

We know that the virus transmits much more easily between people inside than it does outside, and while it’s important for children and young people to be able to play and meet with their friends, it’s also important that they stay safe. This is why at present only outdoor sports and activities can take place.

If children can take part in organised sports, why can’t adults?

At the moment taking part in sports without physical distancing is too risky for adults. As soon as the risk is reduced, the rules will change.

Does this mean holiday clubs can run?

Holiday clubs can start up again, provided they can hold their sessions outside and there are no more than 15 children and adults present, from up to 5 different households. The organisation running the clubs will need to ensure that strict hygiene measure are followed, such as thoroughly cleaning all toys and play equipment between each use. Contact your local provider to find out what’s happening. As adults can only meet with up to 4 other households a day, there’ll be limits to how many sessions the organisers can run.

What happens if it rains?

The sessions must take place outdoors, so if it rains they may need to be called off. Keep in touch with the organisation running the sessions if this seems likely to happen. However, the organisations may use a gazebo or other shelter to keep dry.

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.