SPORT is on its way back … but people will have to learn how to incorporate ‘physical’ distancing into their activity.

The Scottish Government (Thursday 21 May) announced plans to ease the coronavirus lockdown, providing the virus continues to decline, with a four-stage process that includes guidance on how sport and recreational activity can resume.

The OSS will this week turn the spotlight on school sport and PE’s role in helping Scotland get back to normal, or to a ‘new normal’, in our fourth webinar. CEO of School Sport New Zealand, Garry Carnachan, will join us to talk about how New Zealand have changed their thinking in the past two months and are now restoring sport as part of its ‘Phase 2’, announcing a £133m investment in sport to use it to improve the health and wellbeing of all across its 4.8m population. Register for the free webinar below.

First Minister Nicola Sturgeon confirmed that non-contact outdoor sports such as golf, tennis, fishing, hiking, canoeing and outdoor swimming will be permitted from 28 May, so long as all participants adhere to the two-metre social – now changed in government-speak to ‘physical’ – distancing measures, as the general population is again allowed to meet friends outdoors, sunbathe and start shopping at garden centres.

In Phase 2, which will come into effect when the virus is considered to be controlled, R (infection) value is consistently below 1 and the six WHO criteria (see below) are in place, playgrounds and sports courts can be re-opened – again with social distancing – and professional sport will be allowed to begin its return in line with specific public health advice. However, the First Minister warned that any signs of a resurgence could alter the phased progression.

In Phase 3 sport, culture and some leisure facilities, including gyms, will be allowed to open, subject to physical distancing and hygiene measures, along with live events, if they can guarantee distancing and hygiene measures are in place.

For us to enter Phase 3, the government states: ‘the virus will have been suppressed and Test and Protect working across Scotland means we will understand where any additional local measures might be required. Many workplaces will already have adapted, with physical distancing the norm. Communities will be fully engaged and participating in the transition back to a more open life and economy.”

Phase 4 comes in when the coronavirus is not longer considered a significant risk to the public, possibly due to a  virus being developed, however, distancing may still remain and it is not believed that this will become a reality until later the end of the 2020, and possibly 2021.

Schools are to open from 11 August – though this may be staggered depending on regional plans – with support provided from next month for children entering primary and secondary schools or the first time. The OSS will host a webinar on Wednesday 27 May (10am-11am) involving experts from Scottish and New Zealand education, where we discuss the implications of this announcement and how school sport and PE will shape its ‘new normal’. To register for this free webinar, just click here.

WHO criteria

  1. Evidence shows that COVID-19 transmission is controlled.
  2. Sufficient public health and health system capacities are in place to identify, isolate, test and treat all cases, and to trace and quarantine contacts.
  3. Outbreak risks are minimized in high vulnerability settings, such as long-term care facilities (i.e. nursing homes, rehabilitative and mental health centres) and congregate settings.
  4. Preventive measures are established in workplaces, with physical distancing, handwashing facilities and respiratory etiquette in place, and potentially thermal monitoring.
  5. Manage the risk of exporting and importing cases from communities with high-risks of transmission.
  6. Communities have a voice, are informed, engaged and participatory in the transition.


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