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Sport, play, youth 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. 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 1 other household, as long as you there are no more than 6 of you in your group. Under 12s do not count towards the total number of people meeting, but do count towards the limit of households who can meet, so they must be from within the 2 households. 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.

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 outdoor contact sports organised by a club (see ‘can children take part in organised sports?’ below).

Adults can also take part in organised outdoor contact sports, following guidance from the relevant sports bodies, available on the sportscotland website.

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.

Can we go bowling?

Indoor bowling centres can now reopen. Check the website of your local centre to see when it’s opening and how it will operate. Remember, you can’t go in a group of more than 6 people, from no more than 2 households. Children under 12 don’t count towards the number of persons, but they do count towards the number of households. 

Can I play indoor sports?

Indoor sports courts, skating rinks and dance studios can now reopen, subject to guidance. Children under 12 can now play contact sports indoors. Anyone over 12 must physically distance in these spaces, but will be able to take part in non-contact sport and physical activity. The sportscotland website has more information.

What about gyms and swimming pools?

Gyms and indoor swimming pools can now reopen, following guidance.

Play parks and soft play

Can we take the kids to the play park?

Play parks can now reopen. Children under 12 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. However, remember that now you should only meet up with 1 other household in groups of up to 6 people. Under 12s do not count towards the total number of people meeting, but do count towards the limit of households who can meet, so must be from within the two households.

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 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. These changes apply to contact sports such as football and rugby, as long as there is guidance in place.

Children under 12 can now play contact sports indoors. Anyone over 12 must physically distance in these spaces, but will be able to take part in non-contact sport and physical activity. The sportscotland website has more information.

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 outdoors. Your child’s club will let them know what they are allowed to do. However, over 12s will still need to physically distance when playing sport indoors and 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, 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.

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.  All children should only meet with one other household, in groups of up to 6 at a time. Under 12s do not count towards the total number of people meeting, but do count towards the limit of households who can meet.

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?

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.

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.

Indoor activities for children and young people

Can children take part in indoor activities?

Indoor activities for children and young people aged 17 and under can now start up again, following guidance issued by the Scottish Government

Indoor activities include:

  • indoor youth work for under 18s
  • 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
  • faith-related education for children and young people such as Madrassahs and Sunday Schools
  • 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.

Will children need to physically distance when attending indoor activities?

Yes, everyone attending indoor sessions will need to physically distance, including under 12s.

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?

It’s possible for groups like Brownies and Cubs to restart. Sessions can be held outside or inside, 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.

Can baby and toddler groups start up again?

Baby and toddler groups can start up again. Sessions can be held outside or inside, 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. Contact your local group to find out what’s happening. 

Can dance classes start up again?

Dance classes can start again. Classes can be held outside or inside, as long as they follow guidance from the Scottish Government (see ‘can children take part in indoor activities?’ above). 

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. 

Can holiday clubs run?

Holiday clubs can start up again provided they follow the guidance from the Scottish Government (see ‘can children take part in indoor activities?’ above).

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 I throw a party for my child?

You can only meet people from 1 other household at a time. This applies to children too. Children younger than 12 don’t count towards the limit of 6 people meeting at a time, but they must be from the same 2 households. This applies at home and in public places like cafés, restaurants and hotels. 

There are some exemptions to this, for example, for organised sport and activities for children such as cubs, brownies, baby and toddler groups, home educators and private tuition, drama and dance. Organisers of these activities have to adhere to strict guidance to operate safely. 

Therefore parties should not be taking place for the time being. However, the First Minister is seeking additional expert advice to understand if there are circumstances that we can exempt children from the two households rule so that, for example, children’s birthday parties could go ahead, even on a limited basis, as long as adults complied with the limits. This will be clarified over the coming days and information will be published as soon as it becomes available.