Publication - Advice and guidance

Coronavirus (COVID-19): guidance on sport and leisure facilities

Guidance for the opening of indoor and outdoor sport and leisure facilities with physical distancing and hygiene measures.

24 page PDF

369.7 kB

24 page PDF

369.7 kB

Coronavirus (COVID-19): guidance on sport and leisure facilities
Assessing risk

24 page PDF

369.7 kB

Assessing risk

Involving the workforce in a risk-based approach 

As a minimum we expect:

  • an equality human rights and risk-based approach to be followed to protect health and safety of employees, self-employed, volunteers (herein referred to as ‘workforce’) and customers/participants (herein referred to as participants) and to ensure the longer-term economic viability of the operator
  • the workforce and volunteers to be fully engaged in that process, through trade union or specified representatives

The Health and Safety Executive’s  short guide Working Safely Guide can help to support employers/facility operators with what they need to do to comply with the law. 

Joint working

This guidance has been developed in collaboration with industry and trade unions on the basis that both have essential roles to play in planning for restart. Protecting the health of workers and participants has been at the heart of this joint approach which is fundamental to establishing shared confidence around the safety of returning to work and supporting safe participation at sport and leisure facilities.

Implementation phases 

Carrying out a robust risk assessment with full workforce involvement (of recognised trade union or other identified safety representatives) will identify the practical measures that can be put in place to minimise the spread of the virus at a workplace/facility. The assessment should include a phased implementation timetable, structured broadly as follows:


Considerations to ensure you are prepared for the opening of your facility should be developed in consultation with the workforce and updated on an ongoing basis. That planning must be based around risk assessments and safe systems of work including physical distancing, hygiene and fair work principles that are designed to enable a restart that allows the facility to operate while protecting workers and participants health and well-being.

A nominated COVID-19 officer should be in place for each organisation or facility to ensure all appropriate management processes and mitigations are in place to effectively oversee and maintain the implementation of measures outlined in this guidance document. Sportscotland have developed an e-learning module to provide COVID Officers with key information and guidance to support your organisation to return safely to the delivery of sport and physical activity.

While operators should make every reasonable effort to enable working from home as a first option it is recognised that many sport and leisure facility workers will deliver operations on site.  Workplace risk assessment should therefore consider health and hygiene measures that need to be put in place to protect employees before a facility opens.  This could, for instance, include staggered working to minimise the number of people in an office at any one time.


Action to prepare your facility prior to any sport or leisure activity taking place. For instance, physical distancing and hygiene measures require work to be carried out before a restart – for example screens, one-way systems, 2-metre zones, canteen re-arrangement, PPE provision, hand sanitisers etc. Then briefings, inductions and staff training into the new ways of working. These all take time and require resourcing and commitment.


Actions should be implemented to protect the safety of workers and participants while your facility is open. These should be covered in the risk assessment.

Pilots and review

Experience confirms the value of trialling the new way of working before a fuller restart is attempted, so a limited-scale pilot to test systems, find weaknesses and make improvements before a fuller restart is essential. Thereafter review and update your plans regularly once your facility is open and operating.

Dynamic risk assessment

A risk assessment or adoption of mitigation measures should not be a one-off exercise. This should be part of a regular and ongoing dialogue and feedback loop between the workforce, trade union or workforce representatives. This will identify what measures are working, where refinements are possible and any gaps remaining. Reviews of measures and risks should be frequent, with daily assessments of progress initially not unusual. The open and ongoing engagement between trade union or workforce representatives should enable adjustments to be made quickly and smoothly at the relevant stage.  This should include potentially tightening workplace restrictions or reducing numbers onsite if the dynamic risk assessments indicate this is necessary. 

Utilising expertise

Facility operators should ensure their health and safety professionals and representatives have the skills, training and knowledge to understand the risks associated with COVID-19.  Where facility operators and their workforce do not have access to these skills inhouse they should together explore external support options to put in place appropriate mitigation measures.  This could be for example through their trade association, health and safety consultancies or trade union health and safety representatives. All can help facility operators understand the risks associated with different activities and situations within individual companies and offer the support managers and workers may require to ensure the safety of all. 

Building confidence, supporting wellbeing

Returning workers and customers may have some level of apprehension about how safe they may be, and they may require reassurance and demonstration that measures recommended in risk assessments have been put in place to ensure safety. Employers and facility operators should recognise the need to have clear and regular communications with workers and participants, using multiple channels to reinforce key messages. Visual material has proven to be beneficial in demonstrating changes that have or are being made, especially where language barriers exist. 

A clear message from employers, facility operators and trade unions is that building and maintaining worker and customer confidence is vitally important and a challenge that should not be underestimated.

Sharing the results of your risk assessment

It is good practice to share the results of your risk assessment with your workforce. If possible, you should consider publishing the results on your website (and we would expect all employers with over 50 workers to do so).

Page last updated: 4 September 2020

First published: 17 Aug 2020 Last updated: 4 Sep 2020 -