Returning to safe play guide

Practical guidance to help you create a safe playing environment.

Sarah Haden-Godwin

27 Oct 2020

Person playing indoor sport.

Being active and enjoying time with others is more important than ever. But it is equally important to ensure that activity is inclusive, safe and that sensible steps are being taken to maintain hygiene when we take part in sport and physical activity.



We all have a part to play in making activities as safe as possible. Maintaining good hygiene and using Covid-secure spaces are key to stopping the spread of coronavirus, to allow us all to enjoy taking part in the activities that we enjoy.



This guide aims to provide praticial guidance to help you return to safe play and should be used together with the latest government guidance on social distancing and returning to activity. Together these resources will support you to create a safe playing environment.



       1. Keep a safe distance 

  • Follow the government guidelines around social distancing and stay two metres apart from other players where possible.
  • If it's not possible to stay two metres apart, try to be at least one metre apart and consider other taking over measures, such as wearing a face covering or playing outdoors.
  • Where possible, play games in a social bubble you have already created, such as a support group, day centre or regular small group that adheres to government guidelines on group sizes.


       2. Ensure you have clean hands and avoid touching your face 

  • Follow the government guidelines on washing your hands thoroughly with soap and water for at least 20 seconds before and after you play.
  • Ensure there is access to and regular use of hand sanitiser during play. 


     3. Catch coughs and sneezes 

  • Cough or sneeze into a bent elbow or tissue where possible. If using tissues, dispose of these in a bin as soon as possible and don’t leave them lying around the playing area. 
  • Clean your hands by washing them for at least 20 seconds or using hand sanitiser.


     4. Clean surfaces and equipment 

  • Wipe down storage bags and equipment before you play using appropriate products, such as disinfectant wipes or spray that has the appropriate rating to kill viruses and bacteria. 
  • Clean any surfaces that you come into contact with when playing the game, or ask someone for support to do this. It is also good practice to clean all high contact points e.g. door handles in the venue you are playing. 
  • If you share the equipment with other groups, make sure it has been cleaned thoroughly before it is passed on to other users.
  • Make sure equipment is washed thoroughly after each and every use with appropriate products such as disinfectant spray.
  • If you are using items to adapt the game, such as cups, bottles or cards to mark targets, make sure that these are also cleaned before, during and after play.


      5.  Avoid sharing equipment where possible 

  • Consider marking equipment such as kurling stone, bowls balls or boccia balls with different coloured sticky spots (which can be provided) so that each player can use their own equipment throughout a game. Remove the sticky dots once play has ended.
  • If equipment needs to be shared during a game, make sure that each item is cleaned, for example by using disinfecting wipes, before being passed to another player.
  • Use hand sanitiser each time you have shared the equipment with another player.


       6. Clean and cover wounds 

  • It’s important that any cuts or abrasions are cleaned and covered at the earliest opportunity, to prevent entry of debris or dirt that can cause infection. 
  • Keep your first aid kit easily accessible and stocked with a good supply of plasters to ensure a speedy response when a wound occurs during activity.


How does the equipment loan scheme work? 


  • All equipment will be provided in an appropriate carry case, cleaned, disinfected and supplied with additional cleaning products for use before, during and after play.
  • When equipment is returned, it will be disinfected thoroughly and held in storage for a minimum of one week before being lent out to any other group.
  • If there should be an outbreak of Covid-19 within the group, please contact us to let us know. We will advise you to keep hold of the equipment for a further period of two weeks or until there is no longer a risk of infection.


Your group might not be able to meet as usual right now due to Covid-19, but we’re still able to provide equipment to help your groups stay active in the safest way possible. We hope this handy guide can help support you to return to play safely. Get in touch at or take a look at the Let's Play page for more information. 

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Sarah Haden-Godwin
27 Oct 2020

Sarah is a Physical Activity Specialist at Active Gloucestershire and leads on work for disabled people and older adults.