Publication - Advice and guidance

Coronavirus (COVID-19) Phase 3: staying safe and protecting others

Rules on staying safe and protecting others to help suppress coronavirus (COVID-19).

Coronavirus (COVID-19) Phase 3: staying safe and protecting others
Sports, culture and leisure activities

Sports, culture and leisure activities

COVID-19 protection levels: we have set out plans for a new 5-level system to help tackle the spread of the virus. Read more about the new protection levels, which are due to be introduced from 2 November.

Exercise and activity

You may meet outdoors with members of one other household, up to a maximum group size of 6, for informal exercise or activity.  

Children aged under 12 do not need to follow these rules.

Use your judgement and only take part in an activity if you can do so safely, maintain physical distancing and not put yourself or others at risk.

Plan in advance and do not take unnecessary risks that may result in the need for medical care or emergency services support. You should also consult the safety guidance for each individual activity before taking part. This can be found on the sportscotland website.

When taking part in activity outside, where possible, avoid touching surfaces with your hands, sharing equipment and touching your mouth and face. Follow advice on the NHS Inform website about hygiene and wash your hands as soon as you get home.

Personal training/coaching

Personal training or coaching may take place if it is outdoors and, physical distancing can be maintained. sportscotland has issued guidance for coaches, leaders, personal trainers and instructors which should followed.  Coaches and personal trainers may work outdoors with groups of up to thirty participants, if there is sufficient space to maintain physical distancing.

When participating in training or coaching, where possible, avoid touching surfaces and sharing equipment and touching your mouth and face.

Organised sport

The following guidance applies across Scotland except in the Central Belt where different rules apply. Read more information on the Central Belt.

Sports organisations will need to refer to guidance produced by their Scottish Governing Body of Sport and ensure they operate as per the guidance. Under the guidance, sports clubs will need to have a named Covid Officer who must complete documented risk assessments and ensure all appropriate mitigations are put in place by the sports organisation before any outdoor activity is undertaken. 

This will include strict hygiene measures and the ability to contact trace participants. 

They will also need to ensure all coaches, including any volunteers, are aware of and understand their responsibilities under the guidance and any related public health guidance. 

Children aged 11 and under are permitted to play organised contact sport both indoors and outdoors. Providers must ensure they operate as per the guidance as set out above.

Young people (aged 12 and over) and adults are permitted to play organised contact sport outdoors only.  In indoor facilities, only non-contact sport and activity is permitted. As above, all providers should ensure they operate as per the sportscotland guidance.

Where contact sport is permitted, sports can use a ‘field bubble’ where physical contact is allowed on the field of play when the activity is taking place. Outwith the ‘field bubble’, people should abide by the guidance on physical distancing as outlined above.

Sports venues, such as football centres, should refer both to the published guidance for the opening of indoor and outdoor sport and leisure facilities, and to guidance produced by sportscotland and the relevant sport governing body for that activity. Contact details of all participants should be collected for Test and Protect purposes.

Sports facilities

The following guidance applies across Scotland except in the Central Belt where different rules apply. Read more information on the Central Belt.

All sport facilities are now permitted to open subject to Scottish Government guidance on indoor and outdoor sport and leisure facilities being followed.

Operators of swimming pools and ice rinks should refer to  specific guidance for their facilities on sportscotland’s website .

Use of changing rooms and showering facilities should be avoided where possible, although they may be made available for participants with disabilities or special needs or where required after an activity such as swimming.

Outdoor play parks and equipment

Outdoor play parks and outdoor gym equipment can open, but strict physical distancing should be followed. The virus can be transmitted when you touch surfaces.

Different groups of children may use a play park at the same time as each other. However, children should not use a play park if it is crowded. Please encourage children to be considerate of others when making use of facilities.

If children use a play park they should be extra careful about hand hygiene and everyone should use an alcohol based hand rub (hand sanitiser) immediately before and after using the play equipment.

Adults and those aged 12 and over accompanying younger children to playparks should continue to distance physically from one another.

Play park owners or operators should take appropriate steps to ensure the safety of equipment and minimise the risk of transmission through users touching contaminated surfaces. This includes:

  • pre-opening checks ensure equipment is safe
  • signs reinforcing the requirement for good hand hygiene and physical distancing
  • marking out physical distancing and traffic flow where practical. It is recognised that play parks come in all shapes and sizes and for some signage may be sufficient
  • increased litter/waste collection from bins should be arranged if appropriate

Open facilities without staff, such as outdoor skate parks or cycle pump tracks can be used, provided physical distancing is maintained.

Organised activities for children and young people

Various indoor activities and services for children and young people under 18, such as Brownies, or baby and toddler groups, from providers that are unregulated, may resume when guidance relevant to the specific activity is published.

Museums, galleries and heritage attractions

Museums, galleries and heritage attractions are able to open as long as they follow the specific museum, galleries and heritage sector guidance. Decisions on whether to open are for individual organisations to take.  

Many museums, galleries and heritage attractions have retail and hospitality offerings. Any organisations which are planning to open hospitality or retail spaces must ensure that they follow the most up to date guidance and must ensure that appropriate mitigations are put in place.


Libraries can reopen to the public, with physical distancing and hygiene measures in place.

Many public access libraries are operated by local authorities which will decide when and what services are offered. Members of the public should contact their local library service to check which libraries are open and what services are available before travelling to a library: some library services may operate a booking system for visiting the library or for using PC equipment, and some may have dedicated opening times for high risk groups. When visiting a library, you should familiarise themselves with the risk assessed physical distancing and hygiene measures put in place for everyone’s safety.  

Guidance for public libraries has been published.


Cinemas and venues screening films can open.  

Cinemas will operate in line with physical distancing requirements and you should stay at least 2m apart at all times from those not in your household or extended household. Events and venues may ask you to comply with other restrictions they choose to impose to keep people at a safe distance and maintain hygiene.

Drive-in cinemas and events

As of 22 July, drive-in live events can begin. Drive-in cinemas have been permitted to operate since 15 July. 

When attending a drive-in event or cinema, members of no more than one extended household should be present in each vehicle.

The capacity at each event will be calculated to allow physical distancing to be maintained for both staff and customers. Customers will be expected to remain in their vehicles at all times, other than to access toilets and concession areas, such as food and drink stands.

The spacing of vehicles will take account of the need to maintain physical distancing if people need to leave their vehicles. Further details are available in the sector guidance for events and guidance for drive-in cinemas.

Other indoor leisure venues

The following guidance applies across Scotland except in the Central Belt where different rules apply. Read more information on the Central Belt.

From 24 August, the following leisure venues can re-open:

  • bingo halls
  • casinos
  • bowling alleys
  • amusement arcades and other indoor leisure facilities (such as pool and snooker halls)
  • funfairs

These venues should operate in line with guidance, physical distancing duties, face covering regulations and other hygiene measures, which should be followed at all times. You must ensure that you follow the rules on meeting friends and family when visiting these leisure venues.

Outdoor live events

The following guidance applies across Scotland except in the Central Belt where different rules apply. Read more information on the Central Belt.

Outdoor live events that are seated or which take place in open spaces can commence in line with guidance.

Capacity at these events should be calculated on the basis of ensuring physical distancing, up to a maximum of 200 people. Event organisers should ensure that attendees do not congregate in certain areas (such as toilets, entry/exit or refreshment points) which could make physical distancing difficult to maintain. Enhanced hygiene measures should be put in place.

Attendees at outdoor seated events will have allocated seats for the duration of the event.This may either be physical seats or marked areas on the ground which households must sit within. Seating will allow for physical distancing to be practised. Outdoor seated events do not include football or rugby with seating. These come under the stadia category in the route map.

Spectators at outdoor open spaces events will be dispersed over a wide area. Attendees will enter and exit the event at fixed points to ensure numbers can be controlled and contact details can be collected.

Outdoor live events that do not fall into either of these categories may not yet resume and will be considered during the next review period.

Further details are available in the sector guidance for events.

Public and customer toilets

Public and customer toilets can be opened as long as it is safe to do so. Where toilets are part of a larger premises e.g. a shop, face coverings must be worn. Safe opening will vary according to specific sectors and should align with the guidance provided by those sectors in terms of restart. Assurance that adequate sanitary facilities can be provided where appropriate is integral to the restart process. Read more information about public and customer toilets



First published: 19 Oct 2020 Last updated: 22 Oct 2020 -