Publication - Advice and guidance

Coronavirus (COVID-19): sport and leisure facilities

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

Coronavirus (COVID-19): sport and leisure facilities
Workforce planning

Workforce planning

There are other issues that employers and facility operators need to consider to ensure workplaces are inclusive. The Equality and Human Rights Commission can provide advice on a range of issues such as non-discrimination, communication with workers on equality issues, adjustments for disabled people, support for pregnant workers, flexible working for those with caring responsibilities, support for workers affected by domestic abuse, how to deal with harassment at work, and mental health issues.

Supporting those who should come to work, and those who should not 

Nobody should go to work if their workplace is closed under current government regulations.

Those responsible for the management of sport and leisure facilities must take action to minimise the potential for spreading COVID-19 among anyone working/volunteering within the buildings and surrounding grounds.

There should be a particular focus on protecting people who are clinically at risk by ensuring they are able to maintain physical distancing and hand hygiene.

These actions should include:

As a minimum we expect:

  • working from home to continue, where possible
  • health factors to be considered in any phasing of who returns to work, with employees living in at risk households only expected to return when new safe working environment measures have been implemented and a return to onsite work is consistent with individual medical advice.
  • new sport and leisure facility arrangements to be tested and modified through collaboration between employers, facility operators and workers
  • facility operators to take travel to work and childcare considerations into account in decisions around a phased restart
  • keeping in regular contact with furloughed staff

Travel to work

Health Protection Scotland (HPS) have provided COVID-19 information and guidance for general (non-healthcare) settings and individuals should follow the “personal or work travel and physical distancing” guidance. This reiterates that people should not travel to work if they exhibit any COVID-19 symptoms. The HPS advice and any subsequent safe travelling advice should be factored into company decisions on planned returns to work.

Transport Scotland have produced guidance to assist the public to travel safely during the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic. It is important that the latest version of the Guidance is read: Transport Scotland Covid-19 transition plan.

Mandatory face coverings

It is important to note the difference between face masks and face coverings. Where HPS guidance refers to face masks this means surgical or other medical grade masks that are used in certain health and social care situations. Face coverings are made from cloth or other textiles that cover the mouth and nose, and through which you can breathe (e.g. a scarf).

A face covering must be worn by all people when in indoor communal areas, except where an exemption applies (as defined in the legislation), or where there is a ‘reasonable excuse’ not to wear a face covering such as eating or drinking and exercising/undertaking physical activity. Or if you have a health condition or you are disabled, including hidden disabilities such as autism, dementia or a learning disability.

Personal Protective Equipment (PPE)

HPS guidance for non-healthcare settings also offers advice on the use of PPE, confirming workplaces should use PPE consistent with local policies and in line with measures justified by a risk assessment. Both the Scottish Government and the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) recommend a risk based approach focused on a hierarchy of control which seeks to eliminate risks, combat risks at source, adapt workplaces to individual needs, ensure adequate staff training around processes to manage the risk and then use PPE where required. Where PPE is deemed necessary, an adequate supply and quality must be maintained which is provided free of charge to workers and which must fit properly.

Test and protect

Test and Protect, Scotland’s approach to implementing the 'test, trace, isolate, support' strategy is a public health measure designed to break chains of transmission of Coronavirus (COVID-19) in the community. The NHS will test people who have symptoms, trace people who may have become infected by spending time in close contact with someone who tests positive, and then support those close contacts to self-isolate.

People who have tested positive for the virus will need to self-isolate for a minimum of 10 days. NHS contact tracers will interview them and get in touch with people they have been in close contact with and tell them they must self-isolate for 10 days. If your employees are informed by a contact tracer that they should isolate, you should help them to do so straight away.

A close contact is defined as:

  • those that are living in the same household as a case
  • face to face contact with a case for any length of time within 1 metre of a case
  • extended close contact within 2 metres for more than 15 minutes with a case

Where Infection Prevention Control measures have been utilised such as protective screen or use of PPE the contact tracer will conduct a risk assessment to identify contacts at risk. The priority is to public health in order to break the chain of transmission of COVID-19.

Advice for employers and facility operators on helping staff who need to self-isolate is also available.

Apprentices can return to work at the same time as their co-workers. For specific concerns regarding the safe return to work for apprentices there is information and support and apprentices can speak to an advisor directly on 0800 917 8000.  Workers who are at a higher risk, shielding or who live with someone who is shielding, should not be compelled to attend work and facility operators should make arrangements to ensure those workers are not disadvantaged due to obeying medical advice. Facility operators should explore measures such as suspending the normal application of sickness or disciplinary procedures related to attendance in these cases.  

Maintaining customer records

In order to support NHS Scotland’s Test and Protect service, once sport and leisure facilities/businesses return in outdoor and indoor areas, it will be necessary for all to gather contact information from general public, members and staff. Where attending as a small household group, the contact details for one member – a ‘lead member’ – will be sufficient. You should hold records for a period of 21 days.

You can play a significant role in helping your staff and customers to understand the value of NHS Scotland’s Test and Protect service, and the importance of playing their part to identify people who may have been in contact with the virus. Please do this by explaining why you are asking for contact information and encouraging them to provide it. You should also display a notice on your premises or on your website. We have provided a template to help you to do this, though please be aware that some people may need additional support in accessing or understanding this information.

Collecting customer contact details will be mandatory, but it is important that both businesses and individuals cooperate, as it will be crucial to national efforts to suppress the virus. This measure forms part of enabling facilities/ businesses to open safely, minimising the risk of the number of infections increasing, and will reduce the risk of requiring future restrictions.

Page last updated: 14 December 2020

First published: 30 Oct 2020 Last updated: 12 May 2021 -