Updated group exercise guidance for England – 23 Sep 2020

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Quick look:

  • The new restrictions in England will change from Thursday 24 September.
  • Organised group exercise classes are unaffected.
  • CIMSPA has summarised the guidance below.

After working closely with Sport England, EMD UK and ukactive, we can confirm that organised group exercise classes are unaffected.

Outdoor sport and physical activity
  • Adults can continue to take part in outdoor organised sport and licensed physical outdoor activity in groups of more than six, provided it is organised by a national governing body, club, registered instructor/coach, business or charity; and/or involve someone who has received an official license to use equipment relevant to the activity. In all cases, the organiser must conduct a risk assessment and ensure compliance with COVID-19 Secure guidance.
  • For adults, outdoor organised exercise classes can still take place in groups larger than six. When participating in any exempted activity like this, you must not mingle in groups of more than 6 before and after the activity. You should always ensure you socially distance from people you do not live with (or have formed a support bubble with) wherever possible.
  • Organised events of more than six people can take place outdoors in any public place (with the owner’s permission). The law does allow for groups of more than six people to train outdoors in a private outdoor space such as a garden, when following the guidance. However, both CIMSPA and EMD UK recommend keeping to smaller groups within gardens wherever possible, to avoid unnecessary risk of transmission.
  • See the Government guidance on outdoor sport and recreation and organising outdoor sport and physical activity events.
  • Organised sports and activities that have been through the Sport England Return to Play protocols can also continue outdoors.

Indoor activities
  • From 24 September, organised indoor sport and indoor exercise classes can continue to take place (at a facility such as a gym, leisure centre or community hall) with larger numbers present, provided groups of more than six do not mix. If groups of six are likely to mix, these indoor activities must not go ahead. There is an exemption for organised indoor team sports for people with disabilities.
  • For group classes, numbers are limited by the size of the venue and based on 100 sq ft per person, including all staff and instructors. CIMSPA and EMD UK recommend that participants are spaced at 3m intervals as this maintains 2m spacing in the event that participants take a step towards each other. More space may be needed for people with disabilities. Instructors and operators may choose to deliver classes with alternative layouts, but these must always enable class participants to stay at least 2m apart.
  • You cannot hold a session with more than six people within a private home.
  • See the Government guidance on indoor sports facilities.

NHS Test and Trace
  • It is a legal requirement in England to show an NHS QR code at the entrance to a facility, from Thursday (24th September), and encouraged in Wales (in England linked to Test and Trace, in Wales to Test, Trace and Protect).
  • The QR code is available to create and download here and needs to be shown at the front/reception of your facilities.
  • This is on top of your current processes and does not change what you are currently doing.
  • If there are any cases in your facility, you will still be contacted by the authorities in the same way you are currently.
  • If you/a user has been in close contact with someone who has been confirmed as having Covid-19 – you/they will receive an alert saying ‘You have been to a venue where you might have been in contact with someone who has been confirmed positive of COVID-19’, the alert will also link to potential next steps (eg, if feeling ill, please stay at home etc) – The venue(s) will remain anonymous to the user that is notified.
  • Customers and staff should check in to your venue/class by using the Test & Trace App (now available on app stores - search NHS COVID-19). For any customers unable to do this, you should keep a separate log of attendees and keep this for 21 days. For children’s classes, parents should scan the QR code.

Test and Trace FAQs
  • If I’m hiring an area of a facility for a class (eg. swimming pool/classes) within a gym – do I need a QR code for that, or is the facility one ok?
    - The facility needs the QR code, not the specific activity.

  • A gym that is within a hotel that has already got a NHS QR code set-up, do we need a separate code for the Leisure Clubs?
    - If the leisure club is a separate venue then it should have a separate NHS QR code for this area.

  • Do gyms need to have a QR code or just local authority leisure?
    - The legislation states that leisure, including gyms and swimming pools are required to have a QR code poster.

  • Does this only cover customers?
    - No, the QR code is there for customers, visitors and staff to use.

  • If I’m running a class in a community hall - is it the venue's responsibility to display a QR code?
    - Responsibility for displaying an NHS QR code poster lies with the operator of the venue. Local authority run services, including community centres, are required by the guidance to maintain a record of visitors and have an official NHS QR poster.

  • If I'm delivering PT sessions at my home gym or outdoors, do I need to display a QR code?
    - This guidance applies to any establishment that provides an on-site service and to any events that take place on its premises, and whether indoor or outdoor venues or mobile settings.

  • What should I do if I'm delivering a session at a venue that isn't displaying a QR code?
    - Ensure you provide a separate customer log/ collect customer details, so that contact tracers can get in touch with people if required. Notify the venue operator if possible.

Local restrictions
  • If you are in an area currently under a local restrictions, please follow the Government advice and refer to your local authority if you have any questions.

  • Appropriate insurance policies should be in place for all activities.

Sport and physical activity education courses
  • The above guidance also applies to the delivery of sport and physical activity education courses and training.

Travelling for sport and physical activity
  • You shouldn’t travel with someone from outside your household unless you can practise social distancing - for example by cycling. It is not possible to practice effective social distancing in small vehicles.
  • To help keep yourself and your fellow passengers safe, you should not travel if you: are experiencing any coronavirus symptoms, are self-isolating as a result of coronavirus symptoms or as a result of being in contact of a confirmed case of Covid-19, or sharing a household with somebody with symptoms, or are clinically extremely vulnerable.
  • If you have been asked to isolate by NHS Test and Trace because you are a contact of a known Covid-19 case, do not exercise outside your own home or garden and do not exercise with others; you can spread the virus to others even if you never get symptoms.

CIMSPA has a number of resources available to support and guide the sector through the Covid-19 crisis, including:
  • ReTrain - £1.5m of free training for employers in England, funded by Sport England.
  • ReActivate - free online Covid Awareness Training for anyone working or volunteering in the sport, fitness, leisure and physical activity sector in England.
  • ReOpen - an online hub offering guidance and resources to support the sector in reopening facilities, when permitted.
  • Stronger Together Hub - a range of resources and advice to support businesses and individuals.
  • Stronger Together Facebook Group - an open community for all those working in the sector.


The Chartered Institute for the Management of Sport and Physical Activity

CIMSPA’s work enhances the career opportunities and professional development of the workforce operating in sport, fitness, exercise, leisure, gyms, coaching, outdoor exercise, health and wellbeing. We achieve this through sector-wide engagement, membership, networking, events, directories and professional standards.

Incorporated by Royal Charter Charity registration number 1144545

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