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Return to Play

This page will be updated as new information is available. Last update: 22/09/2020 


Tuesday 22 September 2020

We are currently reviewing the new restrictions announced today by the Prime Minister, particularly in respect to indoor sports. We will issue further guidance shortly.

Government Guidance - 'Rule of Six' in the sport and fitness context 

Source: Sport England

People can go outside more than once a day for exercise alone or with their household, with up to five people from outside their household providing they observe social distancing, or with their and one other household indoors or outdoors, providing members of different households follow social distancing guidelines.
Most outdoor and indoor sport and physical activity facilities can reopen if those responsible for them feel ready to do so and if they can do so safely following government guidelines.
This includes basketball and tennis courts, playing spaces like golf courses (public and private), playing fields, watersports, playgrounds, outdoor and indoor pools, outdoor and indoor gyms and leisure centres.

Team sports can also restart when each sport's national governing body has published a government-approved action plan and related guidance on playing safely.

Group sizes

While social gatherings of more than six people will be banned in England from 14 September, the government’s confirmed that organised sports and activities that have been through return to play protocols can continue, as can organised outdoor sports and physical activity events such as parkrun, which is due to return next month. 
People can also continue to use leisure facilities, including gyms and pools - classes within these venues can continue as they are now. People should not go to these venues socially in groups of more than six.

That's because these sports and activities have stringent plans in place to reduce the risk of Covid-19, and because these venues are classed as Covid-secure given the measures they’ve introduced. The importance of sport and physical activity to people’s physical health and mental wellbeing has also been recognised by the government.

In the University context

The Sports Service will work with Sports Clubs and Societies to create a "Return to Play Plan" to enable a club to return safely to activity where possible.                                     

Sports Service Process for Return to Play:  

Clubs to communicate intended start date for activity 
Government and National Governing Body permit activity (either at full or reduced capacity) 
Club risk assessment(s) in place for:
        - Activity (including transport)
        - Facility (if external) 
Sports Service review of documentation 
Sports Service Sign off  
Review date 2 weeks after activity has commenced to ensure compliance with guidance and receive feedback from the club regarding how the restrictions are impacting the club
Please get in touch with the Sports Service via if you are planning any activity over the Summer Vacation.  

Webinar Slides 

Thank you to those that attended the webinar on the 25 June 2020. The slides can be found here.

Supporting Handbooks 

Club are encouraged to review the below handbooks. 


Safety@Sport Addendum Covid-19 - UPDATED 

Frequently Asked Questions - Linked to Webinar 

Q. Will the Sports Service you be able to provide return to play guidance for sports societies? 

A. The Sports Service is happy to work with societies as well as sports clubs on a return to play plan.  


Q. Will societies require sign-off from the Sports Service to get started as well? Or is that with the Proctors? 

A. We want to help and support sports clubs and societies across the University to returning to activity where possible, so all will need a final sign off from the Sports Service in conjunction with the Proctors.  


Q. BUCS have suspended all their competition, but we compete in non-BUCS competitions, what should we do?

A: It will vary in each instance. For leagues where University teams make up most, or all of the teams, it is likely that they will also not resume until 2021. However, for some regionalised leagues, especially where University teams are a minority, it is more likely that these will resume as normal. We would advise clubs to keep in touch with the leagues that they compete in, particularly if those leagues have a summer AGM, and likewise let us know of the intended return to play date so we can help you to do so safely.  For some sports where the league is all University teams, it is quite likely that they will resume in 2021 along with other University-only sport, like BUCS.


Q. Our National Governing Body has provided plans for Return to Play, do we just follow these?

A. Largely, yes, however clubs need to consider their local environment and how the guidance can be implemented. It may not be possible to adapt all the new restrictions on activity to your club setting, which may mean you cannot return to play as quickly as you had hoped.


Q. For those that might not have seen it, what is the University’s plan in terms of students returning to College etc, especially Freshers?

A. Information and udpates from the University can be found here:  


Q. What is likely to be happening with regard to sports that use college facilities for training? 

A. This will be an evolving situation. It is likely colleges will restrict the amount of non-University members using their facilities. Where possible, the Sports Service will endeavour to make space available, however this will depend on our own capacity levels.