Publication - Advice and guidance

Coronavirus (COVID-19): fully outdoor childcare providers guidance

Guidance to support implementation of re-opening of fully outdoor nurseries regulated day care of children’s services.

Coronavirus (COVID-19): fully outdoor childcare providers guidance
Operating conditions

Operating conditions

Fully outdoor childcare providers must operate within the parameters of their registered numbers as detailed on their Care Inspectorate Certificate of Registration. 

In allocating their spaces, continued critical childcare for keyworkers and vulnerable children must be the first priority.

This will be reviewed for the wider reopening of Early Learning and Childcare in Phase 3 of the routemap. 

Providers must ensure they are adhering to the latest guidance for operation during the pandemic, including any updates to this guidance.

In relation to a fully outdoor setting under the management of an education authority, this guidance must be read subject to any Educational Continuity Direction under the Coronavirus Act 2020 that has effect, in particular any restrictions on access contained within such a direction.

Update service status – services closed because of lockdown  

Prior to recommencing their service, the provider must contact the Care Inspectorate to advise them of their updated operational status.  To do this they must complete a Change of circumstances related to COVID-19 notification.  This is a new notification that services can use to inform the Care Inspectorate about changes to how they operate that are specifically related to COVID-19.  This is only available through eForms.  If you do not update your status, the Care Inspectorate will consider your service as closed.

Before you re-open or adapt your service

Settings must ensure all staff make themselves familiar with COVID-19 advice available from Health Protection ScotlandIt is important that the most up to date guidance is used, therefore it is not recommended that these are downloaded and printed off. Staff should always access guidance online wherever possible link and check regularly for any updated advice.

Settings should ensure all staff make themselves aware of the testing and tracing arrangements should they experience an outbreak. If a member of staff has symptoms, they must contact the NHS to arrange to be tested at 0800 028 2816 or You can find more information on the Scottish Government’s COVID-19 Test and Protect webpage. Providers  must notify the Care Inspectorate in the event of any confirmed or suspected outbreak of an infectious disease, notifications  and guidance are available through eForms.

Risk assessments of settings must take place, these are expected to consider risks identified in respect of COVID-19 and must  take account of the relevant guidance from Health Protection Scotland. The assessment should directly address risks associated with coronavirus, so that sensible measures can be put in place to control those risks for everyone. Communicate your plans to parents/carers and staff

Staff must also ensure that they are familiar with the advice for COVID-19 infected households and the Health Protection Scotland COVID-19 guidance for non-healthcare settings

Where this guidance states that providers:

•    “should” do something, there is a clear expectation that it should be done.
•    “may” or “may wish” to do something, the relevant sections have been included as examples of relevant practice that can be considered if appropriate. Local variations are likely.

Nothing in this guidance affects the legal obligations of local authorities or private providers with regard to health and safety and public health. Local authorities and private providers must continue to adhere to all such duties when implementing this guidance. Under the Coronavirus Act 2020, they must have regard to the advice of the Chief Medical Officer for Scotland.

This guidance is not exhaustive and we expect outdoor childcare providers will continue to operate within the relevant legal and regulatory frameworks to ensure the health and wellbeing of children and parents while they are using their service.

Summary of key scientific and public health advice

To promote transparency with regard to the scientific, public health and wider policy judgements that have informed the development of the Education Recovery Framework and the approach set out in this guidance, a summary of key scientific and public health advice has been published and is available.

Scientific evidence shows that the use of the outdoors is good for our overall health and wellbeing and that outdoor environments can limit transmission of the virus.

WHO guidance for education settings advises that education settings should move lessons outdoors or ventilate rooms as much as possible.

This guidance will be kept under review and updated as scientific and public health guidance evolves.

Children’s Rights

Children have the right to play and learn - the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child sets out in Article 31(1). Parties recognise the right of the child to rest and leisure, to engage in play and recreational activities appropriate to the age of the child and to participate freely in cultural life. 

In Scotland, the Government has enshrined children’s right to play outdoors every day in its national Health and Social Care Standards – As a child, I play outdoors every day and regularly explore a natural environment (HSCS 1.32)

Relationship between this national guidance and local planning

Along with the Education Recovery Framework, this guidance provides a framework for the reopening of a specific type of setting within the wider childcare sector in Scotland, alongside other outdoor businesses which will re-open in Phase 1, recognising the reduced risk of spread of the virus outdoors. 

This national guidance document will aim to ensure broad consistency and clarity of expectation across all fully outdoor nurseries and childcare settings. It is also intended to ensure provision made within fully outdoor childcare settings is as safe as possible for both staff and children

Local authority and PVI settings should develop their own local guidance that incorporate the principles and expectations set out in this framework and meet the needs of their own provision recognising the different delivery models which exist.