With the Government moving to Step 4 of the COVID-19 roadmap in England from Monday 19 July, EMD UK and CIMSPA have created an overview of the remaining guidance and recommendations for anyone working in sport and physical activity.
While the legal limits on social contact and distancing are being removed, there are still some legal requirements and official guidance in place, along with precautions that we would recommend in order to minimise transmission of the virus, especially in indoor spaces.
It’s important to remember that there are still cases of COVID-19 in England (with case numbers currently rising quite rapidly) and there is a risk you could catch or pass on the virus, even if you are fully vaccinated.
Research from Ipsos MORI and Sport England has shown that many people are still worried about the risks to themselves and others: only 40% of people feel comfortable with going to indoor gyms, leisure centres and swimming pools, and 56% of people with a health condition are still worried about leaving the house to be active. You may want to bear this in mind when deciding which mitigation measures to keep in place.
Government Guidance/Legal Requirements
Employers still have a legal duty to manage risks to those affected by their business. The way to do this is to carry out a health and safety risk assessment, including the risk of COVID-19, and to take reasonable steps to mitigate the risks you identify.
The Working Safely guidance sets out a range of mitigations employers should consider including:
- Cleaning surfaces that people touch regularly;
- Identifying poorly-ventilated areas in the venue and taking steps to improve air flow;
- Ensuring that staff and customers who are unwell do not attend the workplace or venue;
- Communicating to staff and customers the measures you have put in place.
The Government has also outlined a set of recommended “Safe Behaviours” in its Covid-19 roadmap:
- Wash hands frequently, for at least 20 seconds.
- Wear a face covering in enclosed environments.
- Maintain space with anyone outside your household or bubble.
- Meet with others outdoors where possible.
- Minimise the number of different people you meet and the duration of meetings, if possible.
- Let fresh air in.
- Download the NHS Test & Trace app.
- Get a test immediately if you have symptoms.
- Self isolate if you have symptoms, have tested positive, or had contact with someone with COVID-19.
COVID-19 Symptoms and Self-Isolation
You must still ensure that your customers do not have any coronavirus symptoms, and you should not go to work if you have any symptoms.
If you, a staff member, a customer (or someone in their household) has a persistent cough, a high temperature or has lost their sense of taste or smell, they should self-isolate and get a test.
You can find more information in the section on people who need to self-isolate and you can find out more about the main symptoms of coronavirus here. With the Delta variant, a headache, sore throat and runny nose are now the most commonly reported symptoms in the UK.
In England from 16 August, if you’re fully vaccinated or under 18, you will not need to self-isolate following close contact with someone who has COVID-19. You will still need to take a PCR test and self-isolate if it’s positive.
EMD UK/CIMSPA Recommendations
Fresh air ventilation is one of the best ways to reduce the risk of transmission indoors. The Government guidance states that you should identify poorly-ventilated areas in the venue and take steps to improve air flow, such as open doors, windows and air vents where possible.
A CO2 monitor could help you assess whether a space is poorly ventilated, and if you should switch on additional mechanical ventilation or open windows – CO2 levels below 800ppm are recommended by SAGE.
You can find more information in the section on ventilation and the HSE guidance on ventilation and air conditioning.
Cleaning and Hygiene
We recommend maintaining the hygiene and cleaning regimes you have established during the pandemic, including: clean surfaces regularly (especially those that are being touched a lot), clean equipment between each use, provide hand sanitiser and encourage staff and customers to sanitise and wash their hands frequently.
If you are cleaning after a known or suspected case of COVID-19, follow the measures set out in the guidance for cleaning in non-healthcare settings.
Occupancy and Social Distancing
While there are no longer any legal requirements for social distancing, we recommend encouraging customers to keep their distance from each other wherever possible, especially those who have not been fully vaccinated or may be at higher risk.
The capacity limits for indoor facilities are no longer in place, but we would again recommend a sensible approach (based on a risk assessment) to prevent overcrowding and allow space for those who wish to maintain some degree of social distancing.
Combat-based sessions can return to pre-COVID delivery methods for adults and children.
The legal requirement to wear face coverings will be lifted, and people have never been required to wear face coverings while taking part in sport and physical activity, including coaching/instructing.
While gyms, fitness and leisure facilities are not defined as crowded areas under the Government guidance, we would still encourage the use of face coverings in enclosed public areas when not engaging in sport and physical activity, and for you to be supportive of any staff or customers who would like to continue wearing one. Consideration should also be given to the continued use of face coverings for staff if in close contact roles including first aid in line with Resuscitation Council UK guidance.
Equipment no longer needs to be spaced 2m apart, please risk assess and check with manufacturers (if needed) for recommended space between equipment.
NHS Test and Trace
While it is no longer a legal requirement, we would still encourage you to use the NHS Test and Trace app when running sessions, to support the test and trace system and for customers who wish to continue using it.
You can download and display your own QR code poster here and encourage participants over the age of 16 check-in before taking part.
Where participants cannot scan QR codes, we encourage you to still record their attendance in accordance with GDPR regulations, keeping details of all class attendees for 21 days and providing data to NHS Test and Trace if requested. There is more information here.
If you are working in a gym or other facility, they may be displaying a QR code, which you and your clients are encouraged to scan before your session.
Ensure you update your risk assessments in line with changes to the delivery of your sessions.
Updated guidance on larger scale events (for example fitness festivals, charity fitness sessions, quarterly workshops and large scale fitness conventions) will be updated in the coming days.
NHS COVID Pass
The Government is encouraging organisations in higher risk settings to use the NHS COVID Pass as a condition of entry, in order to reduce the risk of COVID-19. This will especially be the case in large crowded settings where people are likely to be in close proximity to others outside their household.
Fitness, leisure and physical activity settings are not considered to be in the higher risk category, so there is no expectation or requirement to use the COVID Pass.
You can find more information about the NHS COVID Pass here https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/coronavirus-covid-19/covid-pass/