Updated guidance on sport, physical activity and leisure in Scotland

New guidance has been published for the reopening of indoor sport and leisure facilities. Please note, all of these dates are subject to relevant public health guidance and any local restrictions that may be in place.

CIMSPA has summarised the key points below, which should be used together with the Scottish Government guidance on reopening facilities and sportscotland’s Phase 3 guidance for coaches.

Key dates

Covid-19 symptoms

Anyone who is displaying symptoms of COVID-19, or is self-isolating due to living with someone who is displaying symptoms, or as a result of contact tracing is staying at home to minimise the risk of spreading COVID-19, should stay at home.

Click here for more guidance on COVID symptoms within the workplace.

Outdoor activity

  • From 24 August, outdoor coaching and personal training can take place in groups of up to 30 (including the coach/es), when following health, physical distancing and hygiene guidance. There is no limit on the number of households that may take part in a session, and a coach may deliver to multiple groups of up to 30 in a day, however not at the same time.
  • Participants should bring their own equipment where possible, including water bottles, towels and sport specific items. They should arrive in the appropriate clothing for the session as no changing will be available.
  • Where shared equipment is necessary for an activity appropriate hygiene measures must be put in place to ensure the equipment is thoroughly cleaned before, during and after use.
  • No personal equipment should be left at a facility by a coach or participant once the activity has ended.

Indoor facility reopening

  • From 31 August a range of indoor facilities may open, when following the guidance. This applies to a range of indoor and outdoor facilities including sports halls and gyms; courts, tracks and pitches; dance and fitness studios; swimming and diving pools; velodromes; golf/driving ranges; boxing/martial arts/combat facilities; gymnastics and trampoline halls. For a full list see here.
  • Coaches will be able to deliver both contact and non-contact sport coaching to children under 12 in indoor facilities.
  • Coaches will be able to deliver to adults and young people aged 12 and over in non-contact sports activity in indoor facilities. Relevant SGBs will publish guidance for undertaking their sports activity and coaches should also check with leisure operators with regards to specific requirements.
  • Coaches/practitioners cannot deliver indoor contact sport to individuals over 12 years old.
  • 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 exercising/undertaking physical activity. Consider this as part of your risk assessment.
  • For more information, see sportscotland’s “Getting your facilities fit for sport” and the operational guidance for indoor gyms.

Risk assessment

  • A risk assessment should be undertaken by each facility, with full workforce involvement, to identify the practical measures that can be put in place to minimise the spread of the virus at a workplace/facility.
  • Employers should share the results of their risk assessment with their workforce and the Scottish Government would expect all employers with over 50 workers to publish the results of their risk assessment online.
  • For more guidance on the recommended structure of a risk assessment, click here.

Physical distancing

  • A distance of 2m must be maintained between any persons on the premises (except between members of the same household,a carer and the person assisted by the carer or as otherwise outlined within Scottish Government approved sport specific guidance).
  • Gym equipment should also be spaced a minimum of 2m apart.
  • You should only admit people to premises in sufficiently small numbers to make it possible to maintain that distance. Sportscotland recommends allowing a minimum of 9 square metres per person to maintain 2m physical distancing.
  • You must ensure that a distance of 2m is maintained between any people waiting to enter the premises (except between members of the same household or a carer and the person assisted by the carer).
  • Arrange your facility layout and signage with clear marking of two metre boundaries around the facility and signage which reinforces expectations of employees at relevant points. CIMSPA has made example posters available - click here.
  • Consider limiting access to parts of the facility required by an individual to do their job as this will limit the chances for interaction with others.
  • Consider staggering entry and exit times to prevent bottlenecks arising as people arrive or leave.
  • Consider staggering break times and adjusting canteen arrangements to reduce opportunities for larger numbers of staff to interact on a face to face basis.
  • Consider splitting the workforce into specific teams to avoid cross-team contamination and provide a level of operational resilience in case someone in one team develops COVID-19 symptoms.
  • Consider opportunities to introduce additional technology support and systems to assist in managing the safe working practices and in particular physical distancing.


Enhanced hygiene measures should be in place, including:

  • Using signage to build awareness of good handwashing technique and frequency. CIMSPA has made example posters available - click here.
  • Sanitiser and hand-washing facilities at key points, including on entry and exit points
  • Additional sanitiser and handwash facilities at communal areas
  • Minimising the use of touchpoints throughout buildings, including exploring where possible how digital processes or systems may replace the need for face-to-face discussion
  • Ensuring regular detergent cleaning schedules and procedures are in place, using a product which is active against bacteria and viruses, including considering how often and where deep cleans may be required
  • Setting clear use and cleaning guidance for toilets to ensure they are kept clean and physical distancing is achieved where possible - Scottish Government has published guidance on opening public and customer toilets.
  • When undertaking coaching the coach should ensure, where possible, that everyone involved avoids touching surfaces, sharing equipment and touching their mouth and face.

Equipment provision and use

  • Participants should bring their own equipment where possible, including water bottles, towels and sport specific items. They should arrive in the appropriate clothing for the session as no changing will be available.
  • Where shared equipment is necessary for an activity appropriate hygiene measures must be put in place to ensure the equipment is thoroughly cleaned before, during and after use.
  • No personal equipment should be left at a facility by a coach or participant once the activity has ended.

Communication with members/customers

  • Coaches should communicate clearly and regularly with participants setting out what they are doing to manage risk, and what advice they are giving to individuals before, during and after visits to the venue/activity.
  • Communicate clearly opening times and how people can safely access facility, if relevant, for example through a booking or queuing system.
  • Ensure there is a process for cancellation should it be necessary.

Bookings and payment

  • Online bookings should be taken if possible. If not, alternative measures should be put in place including phone bookings.
  • Where possible and in line with Data Protection regulations, a register of users should be kept in case there is a need to track and trace. Please follow any guidance provided by your employer or venue operator.
  • Consider introducing buffer periods between sessions to stagger start times so that participants do not all arrive/leave at the same time.
  • Where possible use online or contactless payment options and avoid handling cash.

Scotland FAQs

Q: What if I or one of my clients has COVID-19 symptoms?
A: If you have any COVID-19 symptoms you should not work and should follow the Scottish Government guidance - click here for more. You should communicate with your clients to ensure they do not attend classes if they have any symptoms. Instructors and venues should encourage all participants to report any infection of their household to the NHS Test and Trace system following use of the facility to limit the spread of the virus.

Q: What are the ventilation guidelines?
A: Ventilation into the building should be optimised to ensure a fresh air supply is provided to all areas of the facility and increased wherever possible. Particular attention should be given to areas where high-intensity exercise activity takes place. You should ensure any existing ventilation systems are checked by an appropriately qualified professional and / or maintenance firm to confirm that they are fully functioning in accordance with current recommended guidelines. The maximum capacity of your building may have to be limited to maintain an acceptable ventilation flow for people in the building. Further information is provided in the CIBSE (COVID-19) Ventilation guidance For specific information relating to different facility types please also refer to Getting your facilities fit for sport – operational guidelines

Q: Can I have any physical contact with clients, for example to correct their posture?
A: No, you must maintain social distancing guidelines at all times.

Q: If I’m working with a client with a disability, can I have contact with them e.g. to help them access equipment?
If social distancing is not possible, or direct personal contact is needed to help a disabled person to be active, you should talk to the person concerned about how best to support them. Consider use of appropriate PPE, wearing gloves or a face covering, as well as handwashing, sanitising equipment and minimising contact time. Activity Alliance has produced guidance on “Considerations for community sport and leisure providers on including disabled people and people with long-term health conditions.”

Q: What if a client requires first aid or emergency help?
A: Try to assist at a safe distance from the casualty as much as you can and minimise the time you share a breathing zone. If they are capable, tell them to do things for you, but treating the casualty properly should be your first concern. Remember the 3P model – preserve life, prevent worsening, promote recovery. Detailed guidance on first aid during COVID-19 is available here from HSE.

Q: Can I train people who are shielding or vulnerable?
A: From 3 August, the Scottish Government paused shielding for most people - for more detail, click here. Clinically vulnerable people should take extra care to minimise social contact with those outside their household and be diligent about physical distancing and hand hygiene.

Q: Can I train clients in contact sports e.g. boxing, martial arts and have contact while wearing pads?
A: You must maintain social distancing at all times and this guidance is for the resumption of non-contact sport initially.

Q: Can I play music during a training session?
A: CIMSPA recommends that any music is played at a level that allows for normal conversation, to avoid the need for shouting. For group exercise sessions, EMD UK recommends instructors supply their own head mic and windbreaker to reduce the need to elevate the voice, and to encourage class members not to shout out or cheer during classes.

Q: Can I run a high-intensity session such as “body attack” indoors?
A: If you maintain the guidance on social distancing, hygiene and ventilation there is no reason not to run these types of sessions. Les Mills has further resources and advice at https://www.lesmills.com/instructors/instructor-news/

Q: Do I need to complete a new Covid specific PAR-Q for clients?
A: Getting clients to complete a PAR-Q before beginning any exercise programme is good practice and may be required by your insurer. Sample PAR-Qs are available within EMD’s free support pack.


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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