Return to Sport

 

2nd April 2021

Guidance on activities permissible from 12th April 2021.

From 12th April, structured outdoor sport training for up to 15 people (including coaches) can resume if organised by clubs/individuals affiliated to recognised sports governing bodies or representative organisations for sport and physical activity. For the purposes of this guidance, recognised sports governing bodies and representative organisations for sport and physical activity is defined as: Organisations that regulate and provide advice and guidance to their members/clubs on matters relating to sport and physical activities. These bodies/organisations must have developed Return to Sport Covid protocols and be in a position to engage with their members on the implementation of protocols aimed at ensuring compliance from all participants. To comply with the regulations any individual / club organising outdoor sport training needs to be able to satisfy the following criteria:

(a) they are affiliated to or have membership of a body / organisation that has oversight of the standards of their provision

(b) they have appropriate Return to Sport Covid protocols in place

The intention is to enable those who provide sports training in well-regulated environments to play their part in delivering cautious first steps in the return of outdoor sport. Qualified providers with appropriate affiliations and protocols will be able to meet the criteria.

25th March 2021

Guidance note to Phase 2 of the Pathway out of Restrictions for outdoor sport. Two infographics have been created to help Outdoor sports plan their approach to Phase 2 of the Pathway. The first infographic shows preparation that is necessary to ensure that Phase 2 is successful. http://www.sportni.net/pathway-out-of-restrictions-for-outdoor-sport/

8th January 2021 Update

This guide will change frequently to reflect changes in the regulations. This version of the guide reflects the regulations as they stand on 8 January 2021. These restrictions are due to be in place until 23:59 Friday 5 February 2021 unless otherwise stated.

Restrictions on Sporting Events and Exercise

For the purposes of these regulations, a sporting event includes any gathering of two or more people for the purpose of exercise, competitive sport, recreational sport or sport training, and includes dance.

You may only organise, operate or participate in an indoor sporting event if:

- all participating sports persons are elite athletes (Regulation 5 applies if more
than 6 people and/or from more than 2 households);

- it is for the purposes of physical education delivered by or for schools, preschools and other education providers (Regulation 5 applies if more than 6
people and/or from more than 2 households).

You may only organise, operate or participate in an outdoor sporting event if one of the following conditions are met:

- all participating sports persons are elite athletes (Regulation 5 applies if more than 6 people and/or from more than 2 households);

- it is for the purposes of physical education delivered by or for schools, preschools and other education providers (Regulation 5 applies if more than 6 people and/or from more than 2 households);

- the number of participants does not exceed 2 and the purpose is exercise but not training; or

- participants are members of the same household and any linked household.

You must not organise, operate or participate in a professional league or professional competition that has not commenced prior to 18 December 2020.

For the purposes of these Regulations a professional league or professional competition has commenced if fixtures have taken place. Spectators are not permitted at any sporting events

18th December Update

Summary Position for sport and physical activity following recent Executive announcements

In response to the significant challenges facing the health service due to the Covid-19 pandemic the Executive have announced a package of interventions and restrictions for the coming weeks.

The aim of these restrictions is to drive the R number down and in doing so protect the Health Service through a challenging period that lies immediately ahead. All sectors are being asked to play their part in this collaborative effort.

Much of sport will be affected but the Executive continues to recognise the physical and mental health benefits associated with individuals exercising outdoors on an individual basis or with members of their household. All sports Governing bodies and their clubs are asked to demonstrate leadership within the community by complying with these restrictions. By doing so sport can make a valuable contribution to driving the R number down which will in turn lead to higher levels of sport activity being permitted once this period of restrictions is eased.

Please see below a summary of the impact on sport and physical activity of the most recent Executive announcements. Please refer all queries to returntosport@sportni.net.

These restrictions will be in place for 6 weeks and will be reviewed after 4 weeks.

From 00:01 26 December to 1 January inclusive (ends at 00:01 on 2 Jan)

  • No sporting events permitted at all, even at elite level.
  • Elite athletes permitted to train between 6:00 a.m. and 8:00 p.m.
  • Outdoor sports and exercise facilities including activity centres, equestrian centres, Golf courses, marinas and venues relating to motor sport and water sport must close.
  • Indoor sports and exercise facilities, including soft play areas, leisure centres, climbing facilities, rinks, gyms, swimming pools, equestrian centres and venues relating to sports activity must close.
  • Outdoor exercise permitted only as an individual or with members of your own household.

From 00:01 2 January 2021

  • Outdoor gatherings for the purposes of exercise or sport are only permitted for elite athletes, for the purposes of P.E in or for schools, or if participants are members of the same household.
  • Outdoor sports and exercise facilities including activity centres, equestrian centres, Golf courses, marinas and venues relating to motor sport and water sport must close.
  • Indoor sport is only permitted for elite athletes or for P.E in, or for, schools.
  • Indoor sports and exercise facilities, including soft play areas, leisure centres, climbing facilities, rinks, gyms, swimming pools, equestrian centres and venues relating to sports activity must close.
  • Elite training and competition can continue, both indoors and outdoors. The definition of an elite athlete is set out in the Regulations– see link:  Return to Sport FAQ’s | Sport NI
  • Spectators are not permitted at elite sporting events

 

UK CMOs statement on the self-isolation period

Date published: 11 December 2020

Statement from all four UK Chief Medical Officers on a change to the self-isolation period for all domestic contacts and international arrivals. This change will apply in Northern Ireland, England and Scotland from 00:01 on Monday 14 December.

“After reviewing the evidence, we are now confident that we can reduce the number of days that contacts self-isolate from 14 days to 10 days. People who return from countries which are not on the travel corridor list should also self-isolate for 10 days instead of 14 days.

Link to full statement:

UK CMOs statement on the self-isolation period | Department of Health (health-ni.gov.uk)

Sport NI is working hard with the Department for Communities to give support and guidance to the sports sector on all aspects of the Return to Sport. We have dealt with hundreds of enquiries since May and have assembled a large collection of resources to help you with your return. Please use them where you can – or get in touch in touch with us via email if you have other needs.  Our email address is returntosport@sportni.net The story so far in terms of easing of restrictions related to Covid-19 and the impact on return to sport

11th December 2020

Summary Position for sport and physical activity from 11 December 2020

  • Outdoor exercise permitted in groups of up to a maximum of 15.
  • Outdoor sports events and gatherings, permitted subject to a risk assessment if more than 15 attending and measures in place to limit risk of virus transmission, with an upper limit of 500 on participants. An upper limit of 500 spectators is permitted regardless of venue capacity.
  • The risk assessment in respect of a venue at which a sporting event occurs must include a consideration of risks relating to those outside the venue who are entering or leaving the venue.
  • As Covid is spread by respiratory droplets, group indoor sports/exercise activities that have high levels of exertion (i.e. that cause participants to get out of breath) are not permitted at this time.
  • Gyms, swimming and diving pools can open for individual training, training with a personal trainer/coach and classes of up to 15 that do not cause an individual to get out of breath. Contact details must be taken.
  • Indoor competitive and recreational sport is limited to elite, individual (including with a coach/trainer, or carer), and non-contact exercise classes/activities of up to 15 people that do not cause an individual to get out of breath.
  • Physical education delivered by or for schools, pre-schools and other education providers is permitted to continue.
  • Inter-school competitive sporting events are not permitted.

Further information and guidance available here.

27th November 2020

Sports

Indoor and outdoor sport is not permitted, other than at elite level. Elite training and competition can continue, both indoors and outdoors. Elite sporting events must be held behind closed doors without spectators. The definition of an elite athlete is set out in the regulations All sports facilities such as leisure centres, gyms, health clubs, swimming pools, tennis courts, golf courses, fitness and dance studios must close. Other exercise facilities including activity centres, equestrian centres (access for the purpose of animal welfare is permitted), marinas, and venues relating to motor sport and water sport must also remain closed. Only individual or household outdoor exercise is permitted. Physical activity such as walking, running, cycling, horse riding, or just walking the dog, bring many health benefits. You cannot participate in personal one-to-one training sessions or group activities such as running or cycling. Physical education delivered by or for schools, pre-schools and other education providers is permitted to continue.

A comprehensive update of on all current issues is now available on the FAQ link

14th October 2020

Further restrictions were announced on 14th October – The regulations will be introduced from 6.00pm on 16 October 2020 and will be in place for four weeks.

  • no indoor sport of any kind or organised contact sport involving household mixing other than at elite level
  • no mass events involving more than 15 people (except for allowed outdoor sporting events where the relevant number for that will continue to apply)
  • gyms may remain open but for individual training only with local enforcement in place

1st October 2020

The NI Executive announced on 1 October 2020 that additional restrictions were being introduced for people living in the Derry City and Strabane District Council area. Sports Indoor sport is allowed for individual training only (for example, no exercise classes). Outdoor sports training and sporting events are permitted, however they will be required to take place without spectators.   22 September The following restrictions were introduced from 6.00 pm on 22 September 2020: The limit for gathering indoors and outdoors does not apply where that gathering has a recognised person responsible for organising or operating the gathering and it is organised or operated for a particular nature,, including those organised:

  • for cultural, entertainment, recreational, outdoor sports, social, community, educational, work, legal, religious or political purposes

or

  • for an indoor sporting event or activity, provided the arena in which it takes place is not capable of accommodating more than 5,000 spectators

The organiser must have carried out a risk assessment which meets the requirement of the Management of Health and Safety at Work Regulations (Northern Ireland) 2000 and take all reasonable measures to limit the risk of transmission of the coronavirus. A person responsible for organising or operating a gathering must, if requested to do so by a relevant person, provide to that relevant person:

  • a copy of the risk assessment

and

  • an account of the reasonable measures taken

as soon as reasonably practicable, and in any event within 24 hours of the request.

22nd August

The limit for outdoor gatherings was reduced from 30 to 15 but the same exemption applies for sporting events . Indoor and outdoor gatherings of over 15 for sporting purposes are therefore permitted if certain conditions are met.  There must be a risk assessment, and reasonable steps must be taken to implement the risk assessment issues and to follow Departmental guidance. This will increase the number of risk assessments required to be undertaken, but it will not impose a limit of 15 participants for activities covered by the exemption  provided the conditions are met.   8th August Indoor and Outdoor Gatherings (excluding Private Dwellings) You, as a group of individuals, may gather indoors or outdoors (excluding in private dwellings) up to a maximum of thirty people. Gatherings operated or organised by a responsible person The thirty person limit does not apply to a gathering where that gathering has a recognised person responsible for organising or operating the gathering and it is organised or operated for cultural, entertainment, recreational, outdoor sports, social, community, educational, work, legal, religious or political purposes, or in an indoor sporting event or activity provided the arena in which it occurs is not capable of accommodating more than 5,000 spectators.. The person responsible when organising or operating the gathering must; (a) have carried out a risk assessment which meets the requirements of the Management of Health and Safety at Work Regulations (Northern Ireland) 2000, whether or not that person is subject to those Regulations; and (b) take all reasonable measures to limit the risk of transmission of the coronavirus, including implementing the preventive and protective measures identified in the risk assessment and comply with any relevant guidance issued by a Northern Ireland Government Department.

24th July

From Friday 24 July the following changes will take effect:

  • Spectators will be allowed to attend outdoor sporting venues “where the operator can control access and ensure adherence to social distancing”
  • Swimming pools in leisure centres, hotels and private facilities can reopen
  • Saunas, steam rooms, hydro-therapy pools, cold and ice rooms, monsoon showers and sanariums are among spa facilities permitted to reopen
  • Bowling alleys can resume operation
  • The number of people from different households permitted to gather in a private home rises to 10 and can consist of people from up to four different household

9th July Ministers approved the following:

  • The reopening of indoor fitness studios and gyms; snooker halls; outdoor leisure playgrounds, courts and gyms; and cinemas from tomorrow (July 10).
  • The resumption of horse racing and outdoor equestrian competitions and outdoor competitive games and sporting events from July 11 for grassroots and professional sport but with no spectators allowed.
  • Amendments to the International Travel Regulations, removing the need for self-isolation for those travelling to Northern Ireland from low to medium risk countries – click here for further information

Ministers also ratified earlier commitments relating to:

  • The reopening of indoor sport and leisure facilities, including skating rinks and leisure centres on July 17, but excluding swimming pools.

Week ending 02 July

Announcements are made to accelerate the lifting of restrictions and gatherings of 30 people now permitted. Indicative dates were set for sport as follows

  • resumption of contact sport training  – 29 June
  • reopening of indoor gyms  – 10 July
  • reopening of outdoor leisure playgrounds  – 10 July
  • competitive sports – 17 July
  • limited numbers of outdoor spectators permitted on 17 July with numbers increased at a later date – 31 July
  • reopening of indoor sports courts and skating rinks – 7 August
  • leisure centres and soft play areas – 7 August
  • socially-distanced indoor spectators permitted – 28 August

Week ending 26 June

Elite athletes given permission to return to training indoors. The Minister agreed to the setting up of an expert advisory panel to assist with the return to sport. This panel will be able to provide additional advice to Department of Health colleagues on sport related matters. The makeup of the panel covers sports medicine, sports physiotherapy, coaching, and athlete representation.

Week ending 19 June

Elite athletes given permission to return to training outdoors. While there were no further easing of restrictions Sport NI made the following statement to Governing bodies regarding operating at step 2 for outdoor sports: Where squad training sessions are being planned it is very important that the integrity of the “groups of 10” specification is maintained. This means that any congregation of a greater number needs to be avoided, through the separate scheduling of arrival/participation/departure times with no communal usage of refreshment or rest areas. Separation of discrete groups accessing the same facility is key. It is the responsibility of both the organising body e.g. club and facility provider to ensure that the space allocated to the group allows the activity type to take place while ensuring that social distancing can be maintained. The type of activity being undertaken and the age of participants should be considered when planning pitch sessions so that both social distancing within the groups and clear separation of groups before, during and after participation can be fully maintained.

Week ending 12 June

Groups of up to 10 are now permitted to take part in socially distanced outdoor training. This represents Step 2 of the Sport NI Framework for outdoor sports activity. However no relaxation of restrictions is yet in place for indoor activity and as a result no indoor sports activity is permitted at this time.

Week ending 05 June

Announcement made permitting the opening of outdoor sports facilities. Non-contact and water-sports able to operate under the restrictions associated with step 1 from 8th June.

Week ending 22 May

Announcements made that Golf, Tennis and Angling can start activity. The majority of sports not yet in step 1.   Resources Please look at the menu of options on the top right hand section of this web page. This provides access to other Sport NI Resources to assist sports with a safe and gradual return to sport