Return to Sport

Welcome to the Return to Sport webpage, for all the latest updates and relevant information please see below.


NI Executive Update 22nd December 2021

 

Outdoor and Indoor Seated Sporting Events

Indoor standing events are prohibited from 8 p.m. on 26 December.

 

Arrangements for outdoor and indoor seated events will be revisited by the Executive on 30th December.

 

Until then, existing arrangements are to be reinforced i.e.

 

For the event organiser/venue operator:

 

1. A risk assessment must be carried out as appropriate:

 

To determine the maximum number of people permitted to attend an outdoor gathering, in a non-domestic setting, the organiser or operator must carry out a risk assessment. Outdoor gatherings of 30 people or fewer do not need a risk assessment.

The number of people permitted to attend an indoor gathering, in a non-domestic setting, is determined by a risk assessment, carried out by the organiser or operator. Indoor gatherings, in non-domestic settings, of 15 people or fewer, do not need a risk assessment.

The organiser must also take all reasonable measures to limit the risk of transmission of the coronavirus.

A person responsible for organising a gathering must, if requested to do so by a relevant person, provide:

 

· a copy of the risk assessment

and

· an account of the reasonable measures taken

 

It is important that indoor spaces are well ventilated at all times, by leaving doors and windows open. Frequently touched surfaces, such as door handles, should be cleaned regularly.

Where possible, you should maintain social distancing, as well as good hand and respiratory hygiene practices.

 

 

2. COVID certification status for entry to the following, with 100% checking arrangements in place:

 

· indoor events (where some or all of the audience are not normally seated) with 500 or more attendees;

· outdoor events (where some or all of the audience are not normally seated) with 4,000 or more attendees;

· events where more than 10,000 people will be present, regardless of whether or not they will be seated.

 

3. It is strongly recommended that, given the high transmission rates of the Omicron Variant, everyone attending a sporting event should take a Lateral Flow Test prior to attending.

 
4. Venue operators should promote and encourage the wearing of face coverings on the way to, during and when leaving an event. It is strongly recommended that all those present at a sporting event wear a face covering at all times including staff, club officials and spectators.

 

5. Other mitigations should be considered to reduce the risk of transmission including one way systems, sufficient queuing arrangements to avoid congestion and track and trace arrangements.

 

6. Those travelling to a sporting event should not share transport with anyone outside of their own household and should where possible travel in their own car, walk or cycle.

 

7. Ticket purchase should be advance, use of cards and scanners are preferred and handling of cash or paper tickets should, where possible, be removed.

 

8. Good hygiene, including hand sanitising, is strongly recommended and venue operators should ensure sanitisation stations are widely available and regularly filled.

 

9. Good communications is essential and venue operators should ensure that attendees understand, in advance attending an event, what to expect and regularly remind attendees at the event of the need to fully comply with COVID mitigations including wear face coverings, practicing good personal hygiene and limiting social interactions.

 

10. Other mitigations should be considered to reduce the risk of transmission including one way systems throughout venues, sufficient queuing arrangements to avoid congestion and track and trace arrangements.

 

11. Venue operators must ensure that they follow the current guidance and regulations for their hospitality offerings and social clubs.

 

12. Sports clubs and venue operators must take all reasonable measures to reduce the risk of COVID transmission.

 

 

For individuals:

 

1. Everyone attending an indoor or outdoor sporting event should:

· Take a Rapid Lateral Flow test before attending each event or gathering. Lateral flow tests are free and provide a result within 30 minutes at home;

· Download the COVID certificate app if you have received your vaccinations;

· Wear a face covering at all times, including when entering and leaving a venue and for the duration of the event; and

· Limit the number of social contacts you have.

 

2. Those travelling to a sporting event should not share transport with anyone outside of their own household and should where possible travel in their own car, walk or cycle.

 

3. Good hygiene including hand sanitising is strongly recommended and individuals should use the sanitation stations widely available at the venue.

 

4. Individuals attending events should turn up early, are advised to avoid crowded areas, must follow the enhanced precautions put in place by venue operators and follow the instructions given by staff which are in the interest of safety for everyone.

 

 

 

 

From 21st December 2021

Sport Guidance 

Over recent months, COVID-19 restrictions have been eased but with the discovery of a new more transmissible variant it is important to take precautionary measures that can protect yourself and others against the virus.

By making safer choices and following public health advice, you can help lower the spread of COVID-19 in the community.

 

Do your part to keep yourself and others healthy:

  • book a test and self-isolate for 10 days if you have COVID-19 symptoms;
  • get a PCR test if you’ve been identified as a close contact and self-isolate if you haven’t been fully vaccinated;
  • take a lateral flow test before meeting others;
  • get vaccinated – whether for the first time or for your booster;
  • get your COVID certificate;
  • wash your hands and use hand sanitiser;
  • wear a face-covering;
  • keep your distance from others when possible;
  • limit your contacts;
  • avoid large gatherings and busy places;
  • spend time outdoors rather than indoors;
  • limit the time spent in indoor settings e.g. changing rooms/showers;
  • do not share equipment
  • don’t travel to or from places with higher COVID-19 infection rates.

 

Keeping people safe at your sports club and at sports events:

It is now more important than ever that the sports sector follows the public health guidance published at NI Direct: -Coronavirus (COVID-19) regulations and guidance: what they mean for you | nidirect

In summary, if you are responsible for organising exercising and sports activities you should: -

  • Carry out a risk assessment for outdoor sports events and activities where there will be more than 30 people involved;
  • Carry out a risk assessment for indoor sports where there will be more than 15 people present;
  • Encourage good hand and respiratory hygiene and provide hand sanitation stations;
  • Ensure good ventilation for indoor areas – (keeping windows and doors open when possible) – https://www.nidirect.gov.uk/articles/coronavirus-covid-19-ventilation
  • Ask people to wear masks indoors (and consider the use of face coverings in some outdoor settings and when in congested areas);
  • Implement one way systems to avoid congestion in common areas;
  • Implement the COVID certification scheme where appropriate i.e.

o   indoor events (where some or all of the audience are not normally seated)   with 500 or more attendees;

o   outdoor events (where some or all of the audience are not normally seated) with 4,000 or more attendees;

o   events where more than 10,000 people will be present, regardless of whether or not they will be seated.

Existing travel exemptions for elite athletes are to remain for now (at 21 December 21), however, sports governing bodies are asked to ensure that individuals use PCRs where possible, isolate when not working and that the use of exemptions are limited where possible.

 

More detailed guidance is available at the NI Direct website under the Exercising and Sports section - Coronavirus (COVID-19) regulations and guidance: what they mean for you | nidirect

A suite of documents with more guidance including sharing transport, sharing equipment, showering and changing facilities and COVID safe behaviours can be found here: - Covid-19: Guidance on the safe return of sport | Department for Communities (communities-ni.gov.uk)

Other useful areas of guidance with a business focus, including for sports clubs with hospitality elements, can be found at  Coronavirus updates: Support for your business | nibusinessinfo.co.uk

 

 

 From 26th November 2021

 

Managing Covid Status checks

From the 29th November 2021, people will be required to show proof that they are entitled to enter certain indoor premises and events. One way is to show that they have been fully vaccinated or are otherwise exempt. This app helps you to confirm that people have been fully vaccinated against COVID-19.

From the 29th November it will be a legal requirement for certain organisations / venues to take all reasonable steps to verify the COVID[1]19 status of those who visit the organisation / venue, prior to allowing entry. The use of the app is one such method of confirming proof of vaccination status.

Organisations / venues can use the ‘COVIDCert Check NI’ Verifier App (known as ‘Cert Check NI’) to verify whether an individual has been fully vaccinated against COVID-19. The Cert Check NI Verifier App is designed for use in scanning and verifying COVID status 2D bar codes (QR codes). These 2D bar codes can be presented by an individual in a number of ways, for example via the COVIDCert NI App, or an officially issued paper copy certificate.

 

  •  Guidance (including GDPR guidance)

COVIDCert Verifier App -25-11-2021 – Venues Guidance ver 3.0

 

  • Covid Status Certificate App Guidance

COVIDCert Check NI Mobile App – COVID-19 (Coronavirus) Northern Ireland (hscni.net)

 Covid cert app user guide

 

  • Privacy notice template

Make your own privacy notice | ICO

 

From 15th September 2021: 

 

Updated Covid 19 Guidance

Now that the majority of restrictions previously in place regarding Covid-19 have been relaxed, we want to summarise our guidance regarding the remaining regulations and how they may impact on members of the sports and recreation community. We recognise the great amount of good work done previously by clubs and organisations on reducing Covid transmission and want to ensure the benefit is not lost by relaxing the mitigation measures that reflect the Health messaging for continued vigilance.

 

Key Areas of Responsibilities

There are still a number of key areas of responsibilities which anyone organising events should comply with across a number of headings:

  • Where Risk Assessments are required, ensure they are relevant to the full range of activities planned to take place, owned and understood by all members of the organising authority, and the mitigating actions are fully and properly enforced.
  • Ensure all required records for all those attending indoor events are fully and accurately completed, and held for the required period.
  • Face coverings and social distancing are still required in certain circumstances and this should be enforced.
  • Where a club or organisation has indoor premises serving food and/or alcohol, they should ensure that all social distancing and mask wearing regulations which may apply are communicated, understood and enforced.

We have extracted the most relevant passages from the current Health regulations below – we have included any sections covering activities likely to occur within premises in the sports sector.

 

Face Coverings

It is now mandatory to wear a face covering:

  • in museums, galleries, cinemas, cultural and heritage sites, libraries, aquariums, indoor zoos and visitor farms, bingo halls, amusement arcades, indoor sports stadiums, funfairs, theme parks, bowling alleys, indoor play areas including soft-play areas when not involved in an aerobic activity, snooker and pool halls, auction houses, estate agents, theatres, concert halls, conference facilities and comedy clubs and other leisure facilities.
  • in hospitality settings, such as cafes, restaurants, public houses, bars and venues that sell or provide food or drink (including intoxicating liquor) and to which the public have or are permitted access, unless seated at a table;

 

Places and premises where the Face Coverings Regulations explicitly do not require face coverings to be mandatory

  • in a place where aerobic exercise is the primary purpose of attendance;
  • when seated at a table in hospitality settings, such as cafes, restaurants, public houses, bars and venues that sell or provide food or drink (including intoxicating liquor) and to which the public have or are permitted access;

 

Indoor Gatherings – Visitor Information

There is no limit on the number of people that can gather indoors. The maximum number of people that can gather indoors will be determined by a risk assessment that must be carried out by the person responsible for organising or operating the gathering. The responsible person must take all reasonable measures to limit the risk of transmission of the coronavirus.

A person responsible for:

  • an indoor attraction including an amusement arcade, a bingo hall, a museum, a gallery or a cinema;
  • an indoor sports or exercise facility including a soft play area, a leisure centre, a swimming or diving pool, a gym, an equestrian centre, a venue relating to motor sport or an activity centre, must comply with the requirements relating to Visitor and Attendee Information

 

Requirements in relation to Visitor and Attendee Information

A person responsible for:

  • premises which are specified in an occasional licence granted under article 30 of the Licensing (Northern Ireland) Order 1996 and which are wholly or mainly outdoors.
  • carrying on a business of selling or providing food or drink (including intoxicating liquor) for consumption on the premises;
  • an indoor swimming or diving pool;
  • an indoor sports or exercise facility including a soft play area, a leisure centre, a gym, an equestrian centre, a venue relating to motor sport or an activity centre;

 

Is required to:

  • obtain visitor information either in advance or at the time of a visit. This consists of: a. the name and telephone number of each person aged 16 years or above visiting the premises; and b. the date and time of arrival. o record the visitor information in a filing system; and,
  • retain visitor information for a period of 21 days beginning with the date on which the visit occurred. The organiser or operator must destroy visitor information as soon as reasonably practicable after the 21 day period unless there is another basis outside these regulations on which the details may lawfully be retained. The visitor information must be provided to a relevant person as soon as reasonably practicable but in any event within 24 hours of a request, if so requested by that person.

 

Requirements in relation to social distancing

A person responsible for the organisation or operation of a relevant place or relevant hospitality venue must take reasonable measures to ensure that employees or visitors to such a place (but not including persons dancing at an event to celebrate a wedding or a civil partnership), comply with social distancing measures at all times. “Social distance” means one metre in a relevant hospitality venue and in a relevant place.

 

A “Relevant Place” is:

(a) the indoor premises of a business or a members’ club which sells or provides food or drink (whether or not including intoxicating liquor) for consumption on the premises and which is permitted to operate in accordance with restrictions on licenced and unlicenced premises but not including premises which are specified in an occasional licence granted under article 30 of the Licensing (Northern Ireland) Order 1996; and which are wholly or mainly outdoors; (

The responsible person is required to:

  • provide information to employees and visitors on how to minimise the risk of exposure to and the spread of coronavirus;
  • ensure all employees and visitors maintain social distancing indoors (unless members of the same household or a party seated at the same table or persons dancing at an event to celebrate a marriage or civil partnership). This can be achieved by altering the layout of a relevant place including those parts to which visitors do not customarily have access, managing and controlling the use of points of access and egress, shared facilities (such as toilets) and managing and controlling the means of moving from one part of a relevant place or relevant hospitality venue to another;
  • that a relevant place or relevant hospitality venue is regularly cleaned, hygiene is maintained and in particular points or places which are likely to be used frequently by employees and visitors (such as entry barriers and gates and card terminals) are regularly sanitised.;

 

Where it is not reasonably practicable for social distancing to be maintained, social distancing measures require a relevant person to take reasonable steps to ensure that—

 

  • (a) any close face to face contact is limited between persons;
  • (b) barriers or screens are installed and maintained;
  • (c) personal protective equipment is used where appropriate and in such a case is made readily available

 

Outdoor Gatherings

The maximum number of people who may gather outdoors is also determined by a risk assessment carried out by the person responsible for the gathering. The responsible person must take all reasonable measures to limit the risk of transmission of the coronavirus. A risk assessment is not required if 30 people or less are attending the outdoor gathering

 

Other Key Areas for Consideration

There are a number of areas not explicitly covered by regulations which should be considered when running sporting ecvents.

  • Travel to and from sporting events

When sharing transport eg private car when travelling to and from venues, it is important to maintain a flow of clean air though the vehicle. Ideally by opening windows back and front.

 

  • Sanitisation/Ventilation stores and Changing Areas

 Take all reasonable steps to ensure sanitiser provision continues and adequate ventilation arrangements are in place.  Ensure that proper circulation arrangements are in place and continue to be observed to minimise the risk of transmission. Encourage players to minimise the time spent in shower/changing areas and that these are frequently cleaned. Sanitisation of all shared equipment after use is recommended.

 

  • Record keeping

It is advisable to keep full records of all those participating in training and matches, including coaches and ancillary staff. There are Apps available for this purpose.

 

  • Managing Cases of Infection

Clubs and organisations should ensure they have clear protocols in place both within their own structure and with their Governing Body to ensure a rapid response to any Covid cases, enabling timely appropriate action and communication. Governing Bodies should by now have guidance in place and nominated individuals available who can provide guidance.