Publication - Advice and guidance

Coronavirus (COVID-19): organised activities for children

Published: 7 Dec 2020
Last updated: 4 Jan 2021 - see all updates

Guidance for the safe running of organised activities for children and young people.

Coronavirus (COVID-19): organised activities for children
Infection prevention and control

Infection prevention and control

From Tuesday 5 January, mainland Scotland will move from Level 4 to a temporary Lockdown. We have produced updated guidance for this new lockdown period.

There are a range of key practices that providers should use in relation to hygiene and the prevention and control of the spread of infection. However, maintaining 2 metre physical distance, respiratory hygiene and regular hand hygiene remain the cornerstone of infection prevention. 

Hand and respiratory hygiene

hygiene in the centre. Where possible, disposable paper towels or kitchen roll, with appropriate and frequent waste disposal, should be used. Where it is age appropriate, providers can also use hand dryers.

There are a range of resources available from the NHS to encourage children with handwashing. Hand sanitiser is not recommended for children when soap and water is available. Hand sanitiser should not be used by children under 12 months.

Providers must ensure that handwashing facilities are accessible for children as well as adults. Hand sanitiser should be available in locations around the premises and available to children, young people, parents, staff, volunteers and visitors at entry/exit points, reception desks, communal areas and workstations. Providers should consider the following hand hygiene measures for staff, visitors and service users:

  • frequent washing of hands with soap and water for at least 20 seconds
  • hand sanitiser can be used as an alternative when hands are not visibly soiled or if soap and water aren’t available at all times (for example outdoors)
  • washing hands or using hand sanitiser on arrival, after toileting, when moving between different areas (e.g. between different rooms or between inside and outside) as well as when exiting the premises
  • COVID-19 is predominantly transmitted via the eyes, nose and mouth therefore people should be discouraged from touching their face or mask without washing their hands
  • parents should encourage children, where age appropriate, not to touch their face, using distraction methods and keeping children busy, rather than making this an issue
  • use a tissue or elbow to cough or sneeze. Provide families with tissue and a method of disposing of these appropriately (closed waste bin with liner)
  • parents should where possible supervise children washing their hands and provide assistance if required.
  • always dry hands thoroughly
  • clear signage should be available for those using the premises (including staff). See materials for this
  • implement cleaning procedures for any goods and merchandise entering the premises, including containers
  • provide a nearby supply of hand sanitiser for employees or volunteers to use when handling deliveries when handwashing is not practical.
  • ensure staff and volunteers have access to handwashing facilities and are able to regularly wash their hands.
  • if staff and volunteers have to use touch-based security devices such as keypads to enter the business through controlled areas, either seek alternatives or implement cleaning arrangements.
  • limit or restrict the use of high-touch items and equipment such as, for example, printers or whiteboards
  • for mother/baby groups, where there are more than 5 adults at any one time, face coverings must be worn throughout the activity, except when sitting down

Cleaning practices before reopening

If premises have been closed for many weeks or if parts of the building have been out of use for a long period, the provider must undertake appropriate and thorough cleaning of the premises prior to reopening.

  • an assessment for all sites, or parts of sites, that have been closed, before restarting work
  • cleaning procedures and providing hand sanitiser, before restarting work, in line with any requirements for reopening after prolonged closure
  • checking whether you need to service or adjust ventilation systems. Advice can be sought from your heating ventilation and air conditioning (HVAC) engineers or advisers. See HSE guidance on Air conditioning and ventilation during the coronavirus outbreak and the most recent CIBSE COVID-19 ventilation guidance for more details
  • opening windows and doors frequently to encourage ventilation, where possible. This does not apply to fire doors

Keeping the workplace clean

  • this is also likely to mean enhancement of the daily cleaning regime normally used. There should be routine cleaning and disinfection of frequently touched areas and hard surfaces. This should include equipment staff use (e.g. telephones, keyboards, door handles, and tables) toilets, kitchen areas and baby change facilities.  
  • regular (at least twice daily) cleaning of commonly touched objects and surfaces (e.g. desks, handles, dining tables, etc.)Toys and equipment that children access should be cleaned between sessions and at the end of the day or in the morning before the session begins using standard detergent and disinfectant that are active against viruses and bacteria. Providers should ensure that robust cleaning schedules are in place for decontamination of toys. 
  • providers should advise that toys from home should not be brought in unless this cannot be avoided.
  • service users will require comfortable areas to spend time and play. However, any soft furnishings such as throws should be removed. Play mats for babies and young children should also be removed and parents encouraged to bring their own.
  • providers should consider whether to permit food and drink to be consumed in the setting used, unless essential for medical reasons.  If providers permit use of kitchen areas to make hot drinks or snacks, or access to water, service users should bring their own cups/cutlery. Surfaces in kitchen areas should be wiped down and disinfected in between each use. Sharing of food or drink should not take place.
  • set clear use and cleaning guidance for toilets to ensure they are kept clean. Read more about toilet cleaning.
  • where baby changing facilities are provided, set clear use and cleaning guidance to ensure they are kept clean and clear of personal items and that physical distancing is achieved. It is preferable for parents to bring their own personal changing mats if possible, with good hygiene practice in place for washing hands and disposing of waste.
  • areas used by service users, any staff rooms and any kitchen equipment should be cleaned frequently between uses. A cleaning schedule should be designed with training to implement the schedule.
  • cleaning of the staff areas should be considered as part of the overall cleaning strategy. Staff should use their own cup and cutlery and ensure these are thoroughly cleaned straight after use.
  • adequate collection and disposal arrangements should be made available for any additional waste created by enhanced cleaning practices.
  • the premises should be kept clear and all waste should be removed. All personal belongings (e.g. water bottles, mugs, stationery, etc) must be removed at the end of each session
  • if you are cleaning and disinfecting after a known or suspected case of COVID-19 then refer to the guidance on cleaning in non-healthcare settings, this includes guidance on when PPE might be appropriate and how to dispose of waste


Advice is available from the HSE on air conditioning and ventilation. Good ventilation can help reduce the risk of spreading coronavirus, so providers should focus on improving general ventilation, preferably through fresh air or mechanical systems.

The opening of doors and windows, where it is safe to do so, should be encouraged to increase natural ventilation and also to reduce contact with door handles. This should not include fire doors.

Case and outbreak management

Your organisation/setting should suspect an outbreak if there is either:

  • two or more linked cases (confirmed or suspected) of COVID-19 in a setting within 14 days - where cross transmission has been identified


  • an increase in staff absence rates, in a setting, due to suspected or confirmed cases of COVID-19

If an organisation suspects a COVID-19 outbreak, they should immediately inform their local NHS board Health Protection Team (HPT). Your organisation/setting may be then contacted by them, as they may get information from NHS Test & Protect or other sources.

In the event of an outbreak:

  • continue to follow the general guidance above to reduce risk
  • the organisation should not make unilateral decisions about managing situations where they suspect an outbreak is occurring but should seek urgent advice from their local Health Protection Team about issues relating to testing of suspected cases and contacts and taking steps such as closing parts of facilities
  • the local Health Protection Team will undertake a risk assessment and conduct a rapid investigation. They will advise on the most appropriate action to take
  • depending on the risk assessment outcome, the Health Protection Team may establish a problem assessment group (PAG) (e.g. if there is a single confirmed case to determine what action is required or an Incident Management Team (IMT) (e.g. if there is more than one case or an outbreak is suspected)  to help manage the situation
  • the Incident Management Team will lead the Public Health response and investigations, and work with the organisation to put appropriate interventions in place

To control an outbreak the Health Protection Team and Incident Management Team will work with the organisation to put appropriate interventions in place. These will generally include ensuring that the preventive measures described in this guidance are fully implemented. Other measures may include:

  • cleaning in the setting - for cleaning and waste management, refer to guidance on cleaning in non-healthcare settings for maintaining hygiene and safety of the cleaning staff
  • consider wider testing of affected population and staff
  • information - ensure that staff (and other relevant people) are aware of what has happened and the actions being taken
  • closure - may be done following advice from the Health Protection Team and Incident Management Team or the business may make their own decision on closure ahead of this advice as a precaution or for business continuity reasons

The Health Protection Team or Incident Management Team will declare when the outbreak is over.

Test and Protect and self-isolating

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.

Staff, visitors or users who develop symptoms consistent with COVID-19 must follow the Test and Protect guidance.

This guidance includes advice for employers. Those who do test positive for COVID-19 will be asked to continue to self-isolate for 10 days following symptom onset and their close contacts, identified through contact tracing, will be asked to self-isolate for 10 days.

Providers should also develop a clear procedure for what to do should a user, visitor or staff member display symptoms of COVID-19 when in the premises, adhering to HPS Covid-19 guidance for non-healthcare settings.

There should be a particular focus on protecting people who are clinically vulnerable and more likely to develop serious illness as a result of exposure to COVID-19. Actions to minimise the spread of COVID-19 should include:

If any person develops symptoms of COVID-19, then that face-to-face service should not go ahead, and providers should consider alternative methods for the individuals to maintain contact where appropriate.

List of symptoms: NHS Inform coronavirus symptoms

  • a high temperature
  • a new, continuous cough
  • loss or change to your sense of smell or taste

Providers should plan as much as possible to minimise the operational impact of individual staff or volunteers being required to self-isolate and may wish to keep a record of absences of staff and volunteers where this is due to suspected or confirmed COVID-19.

Service or activity providers are asked to keep a temporary record of contact details for a period of 21 days for any users or visitors (e.g. trainee volunteers, delivery persons or contractors) to the setting they are using where they do not already have up to date contact details for them. This is to support contact tracing as part of NHS Scotland’s Test and Protect system, in the event of an outbreak linked to a particular service, activity or setting.

There is guidance on supporting Test and Protect by collecting data on users and visitors. This guidance includes what information to collect, how to collect that information and how to store the data securely. The guidance also contains a template Privacy Notice that should be made available to all users and visitors to the setting, service or activity. This ensures that those providing their details are informed as to what will happen to their data.

There are information governance arrangements in place if data is shared with NHS Scotland on the basis of individuals being identified as at risk of being close contacts by the Test and Protect service. In no circumstance should a service provider use this collected data to directly contact users, volunteers or staff, even in the event of a known outbreak within the premises.

Guidance on environmental decontamination (cleaning and disinfection), where it becomes apparent that a person using or working at the venue has a possible COVID-19 infection, can be found in the HPS COVID-19: guidance for non-healthcare setting.

First published: 7 Dec 2020 Last updated: 4 Jan 2021 -