Pandemic guidance: advice on re-opening outdoor facilities

Good news for many voluntary sector organisations, as the Government says some sports facilities in England can reopen and offers guidance on how to manage safety risks during the pandemic.

A playing field.

Many villages provide community playing fields and will need to consider what actions to take. (Photo: stevekeiretsu via FlickrCC BY-NC 2.0)

By Annette McGill

The Government has announced that facilities in England associated with outdoor sports and physical activities can reopen from 13 May 2020. Facilities which are permitted to reopen include playing fields, tennis courts, golf courses and facilities for outdoor water sports. Playgrounds and outdoor gyms and swimming pools must remain shut.

To accompany the announcement, the Department of Media, Culture and Sport has published advice on how to reopen outdoor facilities. The document stresses the importance of maintaining social distancing at all times to continue to limit the risk of transmission of coronavirus. 

The document will be important for charities running playing fields and sports clubs, as well as the village halls which have community playing fields.

Cleaning guidance 

The guidance recommends that organisations should continue with their usual cleaning protocols, but enhance cleaning for busy areas, focusing on touch points such has handrails. It advises organisations to provide more waste facilities and more frequent rubbish collection.

The document says hand dryers should be replaced with paper towels.

The use of portable toilets should be minimised.

Additional PPE “not beneficial”

The document says that COVID-19 risks need to managed via social distancing and hygiene, not through the use of additional PPE. It says: “Workplaces should not encourage the precautionary use of extra PPE to protect against COVID-19 outside clinical settings or when responding to a suspected or confirmed case of COVID-19.”

Managing people flows

If facilities permit access to buildings - for using toilets or to purchase food and drink - the guidance advises extra care in managing people flows, for example by providing one-way routes or limiting numbers and introducing outdoor queueing.

The guidance document, entitled 'Guidance for providers of outdoor facilities on the phased return of sport and recreation in England' is available from the website.