Publication - Advice and guidance

Coronavirus (COVID-19): stadium sector guidance for professional football and rugby

Published: 3 Sep 2020
Last updated: 19 Jul 2021 - see all updates

Guidance on professional football and professional rugby for the stadium sector, including an operational guide and checklist.

Coronavirus (COVID-19): stadium sector guidance for professional football and rugby
Key measures

Key measures

NAs / NGBs / Professional Clubs should undertake a robust risk assessment of their full workforce with the involvement of safety professionals / representatives to identify the practical measures and protocols to be implemented to minimise the spread of the virus within a stadium. The assessment includes a phased implementation timetable, structured broadly as follows:


Plans to re-open 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 physical distancing, hand washing, and fair work principles and be designed to enable a restart that allows the business to trade while protecting employee health and wellbeing.

NAs / NGBs / Professional Clubs based within stadiums should develop user-friendly plans to prepare for reopening, setting out procedures which will guide them to respond, recover, resume and restore to a predefined level of operation.  These plans should be kept up to date and documented in a way which enables personnel to quickly access information which is relevant to them. To make a plan focused, specific and easy to use, it should be:

  • accessible
  • direct
  • adaptable
  • concise
  • relevant

The aim is to identify and document the priorities, procedures, responsibilities and resources which will support the NAs / NGBs / Professional Clubs in managing their operations during the pandemic. A key element of this will be the appointment of a COVID-19 Lead – or Leads – as a key points of contact in specific areas.

Hand and respiratory hygiene

Enhanced sanitisation and maintenance of good hygiene standards at stadiums is crucial to the ongoing operations during the COVID-19 pandemic, with specific focus on cleaning, hand and respiratory hygiene. There are a number of measures which are appropriate and will be introduced to provide effective sanitisation and hygiene, while also providing confidence for all stadium users that measures have been taken to minimise the risk of contracting and spreading COVID-19.

To help everyone keep good hygiene through the working day:

  • mark maximum number of persons in toilets / showers / changing facilities for physical distancing
  • facilitate regular hand hygiene ensuring hand hygiene stations are appropriately placed and posters promoting good hand hygiene are visibly displayed in key areas
  • avoid touching your face
  • cough or sneeze into a tissue which is binned safely, or into the crook of your elbow if a tissue is not available – perform hand hygiene after this
  • providing regular reminders and signage to maintain hygiene standards
  • providing hand sanitiser in multiple appropriate locations in addition to washrooms
  • setting clear use and cleaning guidance for toilets to ensure they are kept clean and physical distancing is achieved as much as possible
  • enhancing cleaning for busy areas
  • providing more waste facilities and more frequent rubbish collection
  • providing hand drying facilities – either paper towels or electrical driers

Environmental cleaning


To make sure any site or location that has been closed or partially operated is clean and ready to restart, including:

  • an assessment for all sites, or parts of sites, that have been closed, before restarting work
  • ensure robust cleaning procedures are in place prior to re-opening of the facility and appropriate stock of hand hygiene products and face coverings is deployed
  • most air conditioning systems do not need adjustment, however where systems serve multiple buildings or you are unsure, advice can be sought from your heating ventilation and air conditioning (HVAC) engineers or advisers
  • opening windows and doors frequently to encourage ventilation, where possible

NAs / NGBs / Professional Clubs should be aware there is an increased risk of Legionnaire’s Disease when buildings have been out of use, or not running at full capacity. This is because water systems may become stagnant when not in use, increasing the risk of legionella within water supplies. Many public and office buildings have been closed during the COVID-19 crisis, making legionella a legitimate concern as lockdown restrictions are eased.

The Health and Safety Executive have published advice on the risk of Legionella in buildings which are closed or running with reduced occupancy during the COVID-19 crisis on the Royal Environmental Health Institute of Scotland (REHIS) website.

Building owners or operators should undertake a health and safety check of buildings, and deep cleaning prior to reopening where necessary, to mitigate risks. More information can be found on the HSE website.


To keep the workplace clean and prevent transmission by touching contaminated surfaces:

  • frequent cleaning of work areas and equipment daily and between users, using your usual cleaning products
  • frequent cleaning of objects and surfaces that are touched regularly, such as door handles, other handles, keyboards, handheld devices and printers etc and making sure there are adequate disposal arrangements for cleaning materials
  • avoid clutter in all work areas to aid optimal cleaning
  • clearing workspaces and removing waste and belongings from the work area at the end of a shift
  • wedging doors open, where appropriate – NB, this does not apply to fire doors – to reduce touchpoints


Please note, this is different to routine cleaning. If you are cleaning after a known or suspected case of COVID-19, then refer to the guidance on cleaning in non-healthcare settings.


You should refer to the Scottish Government guidance on ventilation, and this should be considered as part of a hierarchy of risk controls approach. These include:

  • effective fresh air ventilation, working alongside face coverings, distancing and enhanced hygiene regimes
  • restricting or reducing duration of activities indoors
  • room layout
  • utilising rooms with good ventilation and avoiding the use of those without
  • enhanced use of face coverings should be considered alongside ventilation for reducing far-field aerosol transmission risks
  • factoring in the use of suitable air cleaning devices to enhance indoor air quality

Assessing ventilation requirements in many environments requires appropriate engineering expertise, and specific mitigation measures, taking into account the nature of the building and users, ventilation type, length of exposure and activity.

For naturally ventilated spaces, windows, doors and vents are often the mechanism for providing outside air. A well ventilated space reduces the concentration of viral load in the air, reducing the risk of transmission of the virus. Evidence to date suggests poorly ventilated spaces pose the highest risk, so it is recommended mitigation measures focus on those spaces where ventilation is absent or inadequate.

Mechanical ventilation systems should be operated at the maximum design flow rate, even if a space has a lower occupancy than the maximum permitted. It is recommended ventilation systems are set to run on full fresh air as far as possible.

Where practical, spaces where there is potential for long duration exposure over several hours within the same group – eg offices, schools – should ensure occupants have regular breaks, ideally with purge ventilation / airing of the room, to reduce the potential for viral exposure. This may mean alterations to the work pattern or teaching or office areas.

Physical distancing

Physical distancing measures will be slowly eased to enable us to operate in a less restricted way.

When areas move down to Level 0, the following changes will apply:

  • physical distancing of 1 metre in outdoor settings
  • physical distancing of 1 metre in indoor settings

Physical distancing requirements will be removed when all areas in Scotland move beyond Level 0.

Face coverings

Face coverings continue to be an important part of stopping the spread of coronavirus. You need to wear a face covering in certain public places in Level 0 even if you have been vaccinated, unless an exception applies to you.

Further guidance on face coverings is available on our website.

Changing facilities

To minimise the risk of transmission in changing rooms and showers please refer to the sportscotland guidance on changing and showers, and:

  • where shower and changing facilities are required, setting clear use and cleaning guidance for showers, lockers and changing rooms to ensure they are kept clean and clear of personal items and physical distancing is maintained as much as possible
  • introducing enhanced cleaning of all facilities regularly during the day and at the end of the day

Handling goods, merchandise and other materials, and onsite vehicles

To reduce transmission through contact with objects that come into the workplace and vehicles at the worksite:

  • cleaning procedures for goods and merchandise entering the site
  • cleaning procedures for vehicles
  • regular cleaning of reusable delivery boxes
  • introducing greater handwashing and handwashing facilities for workers handling goods and merchandise and providing hand sanitiser where this is not practical
  • restricting non-business deliveries, for example, personal deliveries to workers
  • ensuring physical distancing and hygiene measures are followed where possible when supplies etc are delivered
  • collecting items in bulk to reduce the frequency of needing to visit shops to buy or collect materials
  • removing waste in bulk if possible
  • enhanced handling procedures of laundry to prevent potential contamination of surrounding surfaces, to prevent raising dust or dispersing the virus. Further detail is provided in the relevant NA / NGB / Professional Club Return to Play guidance


  • complete lock down of stadium prior to match – timing will vary depending on the venue
  • deep clean
  • amended cleaning protocols / processes and identify all high traffic touch points
  • improve consumable and sanitisation supplies (eg PPE, alcohol gel, antibacterial wipes, cleaning stations, non-contact thermometers, hand towels, sensor operated bins) in multiple key locations across the facility where access is required
  • instruction on hygiene standards to all user groups

First published: 3 Sep 2020 Last updated: 19 Jul 2021 -