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Return to play - preparing for the next steps

Executive Director Ali Donnelly details how we're preparing advice and guidance for the next phases of restrictions being lifted across sport and physical activity, including for when indoor facilities can reopen.

17th June 2020

by Ali Donnelly
Executive director of digital, marketing and communications, Sport England

In recent weeks we’ve seen parts of the sport and physical activity sector begin to open up again.

Although this has so far been confined to those sports that can safely operate outdoors and within public health guidelines, it's been brilliant to see such high demand for outdoor facilities such as basketball and tennis courts, to see small groups of people safely getting together to exercise or begin team training and to see people embracing cycling, walking and running.

However, we recognise that those operating indoor facilities are also keen to understand how best they can prepare for reopening, when a decision is taken on that.

An indoor gym with tape over some machines to enable social distancing

In recent weeks we've been consulting widely with the sector to get a sense of the kind of resources that would be helpful in advance of that.

While we don't yet have a decision on when restrictions will be loosened further, we wanted to let you know what support to expect from us directly when that happens.

As part of the guidance that will be issued, there will be resources that will help plan for a safe return to sport and physical activity and support the sector to keep staff, volunteers, members and participants informed of their responsibilities around social distancing.

Our resources will include:

  • Inclusion and accessibility guidance – helping you to understand who can get active, how you can engage specific audiences and how to ensure your facilities are, and remain, accessible to all when allowed to reopen.
  • Support for the professional workforce – including advice on staffing considerations for the safe reopening of facilities, as well as news on support available from the government and links to resources such as training and development opportunities.
  • Volunteering guidance – setting out some of the main considerations to help your volunteers return safely, well-informed and prepared.
  • Managing liability and risk guidance – to give providers, be they clubs, governing bodies, community groups or regional associations, advice on what issues need considering and how they might tackle them in order to safely return to play.

Club Matters

There will also be support for sports clubs and organisations on the Club Matters website, including:

  • Reopening toolkit – this will include information on how your club/organisation can plan its return to sport, with advice on what you need to think about across different areas such as reopening your facility and protecting your people.
  • Risk register template – this template, with a dedicated user guide, is designed to help your club/organisation introduce or update your practices regarding how you manage risks.
  • Creating a risk assessment – this draws from the current Health and Safety Executive advice and provides step-by-step guidance to help organisations address risk, including coronavirus-specific considerations.
  • Social distancing guidance – this resource covers the different practices and considerations your club/organisation may need to introduce so that social distancing can be implemented in line with current government advice.

A number of priorities have guided this work, alongside simply helping the sector to get back up and running. These have particularly included making sure that there’ll be a strong focus on tackling inequalities that have been exacerbated during lockdown; making sure that providers are focused sharply on accessibility and ensuring that volunteers are given the support they need to return, when it is safe to do so. 

We’ll continue to evolve and develop this suite of resources as and when the government guidance changes, and in response to your feedback.

Tomorrow, we’re also publishing a specific toolkit to help with implementing hygiene procedures at sport and physical activity facilities that are applicable for outdoor facilities now, as well as insight into people's current attitudes to sport and physical activity.

And you can see the other support for projects and organisations we have compiled, here.

While London Sport has also compiled a list of guidance notes, on returning to play, from sports’ national governing bodies.

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