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06 Jan 2021 15,678

Coronavirus (COVID-19) update: We’re here for the coach

The coaching family continues to be challenged due to the restrictions in place to beat this virus, however we know that coaches continue to connect and support participants regardless of the circumstances, and UK Coaching is here to help coaches do that safely and legally.

Here is the latest information for coaches on the current coronavirus (COVID-19) situation from across the UK – updated 22 February 2021.

The government announced on Monday, 22 February, as part of its roadmap out of lockdown, that outdoor sports facilities – such as tennis courts, basketball courts and golf courses – will be allowed to reopen in England from 29 March, while organised adult and children’s sports, such as grassroots football, will also be allowed to resume on that date.

The opening of gyms, leisure centres and indoor swimming pools comes under Step 2 of the roadmap, which will come into force no earlier than 12 April. Adult indoor group sports and exercise classes fall under Step 3, and will be allowed to begin again no earlier than 17 May.

Meanwhile, all schools in England will reopen to all pupils on 8 March, when outdoor after-school sports and activities will be allowed to restart.

We will be releasing more details on how the government’s lockdown easing plan will affect sport and physical activity and the safe return to play, along with the implications for coaching activity, as new information becomes available.

The current national lockdown restrictions became law on Wednesday 6 January and here are the key points for coaches to be aware of:

  • Personal training/coaching can continue one-on-one. Sessions must take place in a public outdoor space, and social distancing must be maintained. Sessions can’t take place in private gardens.
  • A coach/personal trainer can see multiple clients on the same day, as the coach/PT would be in attendance for work purposes.
  • Elite sportspeople (and their coaches, or parents/guardians if they are under 18) – or those on an official elite sports pathway – will be allowed to compete and train.
  • Indoor gyms and sports facilities, such as leisure centres, swimming pools, sports courts, fitness and dance studios and climbing walls, will be closed.
  • Outdoor sports courts, outdoor gyms, golf courses, outdoor swimming pools, archery/driving/shooting ranges and riding arenas will be closed.
  • Organised outdoor sport for disabled people is allowed to continue.

For detailed guidance on what you can and cannot do, read the Government’s National Lockdown: Stay at Home guidance.

Sport England has given the following additional general advice. The full statement can be read here.

  • People should minimise time spent outside their home. It’s against the law to meet socially with family or friends unless they are part of an individual’s household or support bubble.
  • People can only leave their home to exercise, and not for the purpose of recreation or leisure, and can do so with one person from outside their household.
  • This should be limited to once per day, and individuals should not travel outside their local area.
  • When around other people, individuals should stay two metres apart from anyone not in their household – meaning the people they live with – or their support bubble.
  • Where this isn’t possible, they should stay one metre apart with extra precautions (such as wearing a face covering).

And Sport England has also compiled answers to some frequently asked questions on the national lockdown restrictions.

We will update and refresh this guidance as new information becomes available. 

UK Coaching urges all coaches to continue following health and safety measures to protect themselves and their families against the virus. These can be found via the WHO (World Health Organisation) website.

We are proud of how much our coaching community has done to support society by offering a supportive network for people all over the UK during the pandemic. We love seeing and sharing the work of all coaches, so please continue to post and tag us on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram and Linkedin. We encourage you to continue your journey of self-improvement and up-skilling by accessing our learning and development resources.

And we will continue to support you by offering further guidance, resources and lobbying for more support for you from a range of funding sources.

Information on Home Nations

The Scottish Government set out its route out of lockdown on 23 February.

This will see the return of non-contact outdoor sports for ages 12-17 from 15 March, with leisure centres, gyms and indoor swimming pools allowed to reopen from 26 April, although First Minister Nicola Sturgeon made it clear that these key dates could change: "Possibly with some revision to the content of the levels."

The Scottish Government's stay at home regulations came into effect on 5 January 2021. Visit the Scottish Government's website for full details.

With regards to sport and exercise, those regulations include:

  • All leisure premises must be closed (except for use in limited circumstances).
  • A maximum of 2 people from 2 separate households can meet outdoors for sport or exercise. Children under the age of 12 from these households do not count towards this number.
  • The members of an individual household or extended household can meet outdoors for sport or exercise.
  • You can travel for local outdoor sport or exercise such as meeting another person, walking, cycling, golf or running that starts and finishes at the same place (which can be up to 5 miles from the boundary of your local authority area), as long as you abide by the rules on meeting other households.
  • Indoor sports facilities are closed.
  • Outdoor gyms can remain open.
  • Outdoor non-contact sports such as golf and tennis are permitted for all age groups provided this is within a single household group, or the group contains no more than 2 people from 2 different households.  Children under the age of 12 from these households do not count towards this number.
  • Organised sport and exercise can only take place within a single household group, or a group containing no more than 2 people from 2 different households. Children under the age of 12 from these households do not count towards this number.
  • Organised sport and exercise for under-12s can continue in line with workplace and socialising guidance, and sport-specific guidance agreed between the Scottish Governing Body of Sport and sportscotland. Sports providers must ensure they operate in line with the relevant guidance:

The latest sport and physical activity guidance from sportscotland

sportscotland's guidance for coaches, leaders, personal trainers and instructors

Under the new stay at home regulations, examples of reasonable excuses to go out include: 

  • For local outdoor recreation, sport or exercise, walking, cycling, golf, or running that starts and finishes at the same place (which can be up to 5 miles from the boundary of your local authority area) as long as you abide by the rules on meeting other households.
  • For those involved in professional sports, for training, coaching or competing in an event.

Currently, all of Wales is at alert level 4, which means sport courts, golf courses and leisure and fitness facilities must remain closed.

At alert level 4 you must:

  • Follow social distancing rules with people you don’t live with or who are not in your support bubble.
  • Wear a face covering (if you are able to) in all indoor public places.
  • Stay at home.
  • Not create an extended household (single adults or single parents may join with one other household to form an exclusive support bubble).
  • Meet only the people you live with or your support bubble indoors.
  • Meet only your household or support bubble in private gardens.
  • Work from home if you can. 
  • Not travel without reasonable excuse. 
  • Not travel internationally without reasonable excuse.

You can only leave home at alert level 4 if you have a "reasonable excuse". This includes coaches who are coaching/supporting elite athletes.

From the 30 January, you can exercise, alone with members of your household or support bubble or with one person from another household. This must be done locally unless there is a reason, such as a specific health condition or mobility issue, that would require driving to the nearest convenient, accessible location.

If you choose to exercise with one person from outside your household or support bubble, you cannot exercise with members of your household or support bubble at the same time.

The full measures and restrictions can be found on the Welsh Government's website and Sport Wales' website.

From the 26 December strict new regulations will apply in Northern Ireland for six weeks. In the measures, "you cannot participate in personal one-to-one training sessions or group activities such as running or cycling".

Head to the Northern Irish Government's website for further details. Additionally, Sport Northern Ireland has summarised the coming restrictions.

General information for all coaches

We suggest that coaches who continue to coach follow the guidance laid out above, and stick to the key points below:

  • The coach and their participants remain two metres (six feet) away from each other (and others in the vicinity) at all times.
    • You are at higher risk of being directly exposed to respiratory droplets released by someone talking or coughing when you are within two metres of someone and have face-to-face contact with them. You can lower the risk of infection if you stay side-to-side rather than facing people. 
  • There is no physical contact between the coach and their participants, eg handshakes, ‘high-fives’, etc.
  • Good hand hygiene is observed, ie hands are washed before and after the coaching activity; and hand sanitiser gel is used at intervals during the coaching activity.
  • The coach should ensure that participants avoid sharing the same equipment. Additionally, kit and equipment should be changed, washed and sanitised regularly.
  • Coaches and participants should avoid touching their faces.
  • Coaches, who have participants under the age of 18 or who are deemed to be a vulnerable adult, should seek consent from a parent/guardian or other responsible adult, as well as arrange appropriate drop-off and pick-up strategies, and ensure their participants have clearly defined equipment and kit to avoid contamination with others. 
  • Coaches whose participants have been shielding should read the latest updated guidance on shielding and protecting people who are clinically extremely vulnerable from COVID-19.

If a coach or their participants show symptoms of coronavirus (COVID-19), eg a new continuous cough; a high temperature; loss of taste and or smell, they and their household should isolate at home and cancel any scheduled coaching activity.

The NHS provides further information on what to do if you or anyone you have been in contact with is showing symptoms.

Coaches across the country should be in regular contact with their respective governing body of sport or respective Home Country Sports Councils for updates on guidance and restrictions.

Sport England, Sport Northern Ireland, sportscotland, Sport Wales.

Head to our coaching community ConnectedCoaches to contribute to a thread on how coaching whilst maintaining social distancing will work for you. Additionally, if you register at ukcoaching.org you can download a series of infographics containing questions to help you plan for your return to coaching post-lockdown, and watch our free Returning to Coaching #Time2Learn webinar on-demand. 

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