UPDATED: Thursday 16th July – 16.00
We have prepared a list of FAQs to help pick out some of the key points from the guidance that has been issued by the relevant government.
- What date are clubs & Leisure Centres able to reopen?
The UK Government have announced that clubs in England can reopen on Saturday 25th July, following the DCMS guidelines for social distancing and hygiene.
The NI Exec have announced that indoor sport can return as of Friday 17th July, following government guidelines on social distancing and hygiene guidance and British Gymnastics protocols. Gymnastics clubs should continue to refrain from the use of changing and shower facilities.
We do not currently have a timeline for the reopening of gymnastics clubs in Scotland and Wales.
We do not currently have a timeline for the reopening of gymnastics clubs in Scotland and Wales.
- Does my National Governing Body need to sign off the club being able to reopen?
No British Gymnastics does not need to sign off clubs reopening. A ‘reopening summary checklist & self-declaration template’ can be found here to provide you with an overview of what needs to be in place before reopening. Further guidance can be found within the Step Forward Plan resources.
Local authorities may require sign off of plans and the local Health and Safety Executive (HSE) may require registration. Please check your local authorities requirement before reopening
Spot checks have been common place in other sectors. Please ensure you have documentation ready and available for spot checks by local authority organisations e.g. HSE/Environmental Health.
- What guidance do clubs need to follow?
DCMS – People who work in grass roots sport and gym/leisure facilities
Gymnastics clubs should follow the guidance issued for ‘people who work in grass roots sport and gym/leisure facilities‘ by the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS). This contains all the relevant information to resume gymnastics activity safely. Within this guidance, reference is made to the guidance for ‘Protective measures for out-of-school settings during the coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak’ issued by the Department for Education (DfE). This makes specific reference to children taking part in indoor group activity and the group sizes stated are applicable to gymnastics clubs. Clubs offering gymnastics specific out of school provision and holiday clubs can do so without being Ofsted registered providing the children are aged 6 and above.
DfE – Protective measures for out-of-school settings during the coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak
Clubs offering gymnastics specific out of school provision and holiday clubs for more than 4 hours must be Ofsted registered providing the children are aged 5 and under. If you are running out of school provision and holiday clubs that do not offer any indoor gymnastics activity e.g. arts and crafts only, please consult the DfE guidance and Ofsted.
- How many people are allowed in the venue at any one time?
Due to clubs operating in different environments, variances in equipment and sizes, British Gymnastics are unable to define the maximum capacity for clubs. To ensure clubs can operate effectively within their own environments they will need to define the maximum capacity that can reasonably follow social distancing at the venue.
Capacity numbers for dedicated facilities:
The maximum occupancy of each indoor facility should be limited by providing a minimum of 100sqft per person, taking into account total indoor and outdoor space, specific venue characteristics such as equipment as well as likely pinch points and busy areas. It should be based on the government requirement for social distancing, the nature of activities (i.e. if the activity is static vs. requiring a range of movement) and equipment layout and the configuration of facilities.
Particular attention should be given to ventilation (see DCMS guidance for more information) and sufficient circulation space specially around equipment and between groups and coaches. Ventilation systems should provide 100% fresh air and not recirculate air from one space to another. It is up to the club to determine how much socially distanced space is provided per gymnast for their activity as long as it does not go under current government guidelines for social distancing e.g. you may decide to operate on 2m by 2m area for each gymnast or a 3m by 3m area.
Clubs will need to conduct a specific risk assessment for each facility and the proposed activities to identify the number of individuals that can reasonably follow social distancing within the facility, taking into account total space, equipment as well as likely constraints (toilets, locker areas, changing rooms and washrooms) and pinch points.
Individual groups should be no larger than a group of 15 gymnasts plus coaches. British Gymnastics gymnast to coach/teacher ratios and safeguarding policies should be adhered to at all times. Multiple groups of 15 are allowed within a venue, ensuring social distancing is in place and maximum capacity of the venue is not exceeded. Where possible coaches and gymnasts should remain with the same group to reduce the risk of transmission.
Capacity numbers for non-dedicated facilities:
Clubs who operate within a space that is managed by an external provider e.g. leisure centre/school hall, will need to speak to the venue regarding total capacity available and the capacity available within hired gymnastics space e.g. a badminton court. Clubs will need to take into consideration equipment being used when defining their maximum capacity and conduct a specific risk assessment for the available space and the proposed activities to identify the number of individuals that can reasonably follow social distancing within the space.
Individual groups should be no larger than a group of 15 gymnasts plus coaches. It is up to the club to determine how much socially distanced space is provided per gymnast for their activity as long as it does not go below current government guidelines for social distancing e.g. you may decide to operate on 2m by 2m area for each gymnast or a 3m by 3m area.
British Gymnastics coach:gymnast ratios and safeguarding policies should be adhered to at all times. Multiple groups of 15 are allowed within the space available to gymnastics ensuring social distancing is in place and maximum capacity of the venue is not exceeded. Where possible coaches and gymnasts should remain with the same group to reduce the risk of transmission.
Northern Ireland clubs can find more information here on the guidance available.
- Is ‘bubbling’ allowed within sessions?
The guidance states that social distance regulations must be maintained therefore ‘bubbling’ or close contact is not permitted within groups unless gymnasts are from the same household. The guidance encourages fixed groups to be maintained throughout the session.
- Can gymnasts work in pairs and or groups?
Social distancing must be adhered to at all times and no contact is permitted between coaches and gymnasts, or gymnasts and gymnasts until the relevant government remove/review social distancing measures.
For any disciplines that require close contact or teamwork elements within their training, for example; Acrobatics, Rhythmic groups, TeamGym, Aerobics Pairs, Festival groups; until the government reviews/removes their social distancing guidelines, all training will be required to be non-contact and planned to include solo or socially distanced skills/activities.
Guidance refers to ‘maintaining social distancing where possible’, this is only applicable in emergency situations.
- Are coaches able to spot/support gymnasts?
Social distancing must be adhered to at all times and no contact is permitted between coaches and gymnasts, or gymnasts and gymnasts until the relevant government remove/review social distancing.
Activity planned and delivered should be appropriate for socially distanced coaching and no close spotting/supporting is permitted under the current guidelines. Download your social distance coaching tips here.
- Use of Thermometers – Are clubs allowed to test the temperature of staff or gymnasts as part of their control measures, and is this a suitable control measure?
Currently, temperature checking/use of thermometers is not a legal requirement but is an additional control measure to reduce the risk of transmission within the venue. Clubs may want to include as part of their control measures as a result of their risk assessment whilst taking the following into account:
Take temperature prior to entry to the venue, be aware that a person’s temperature may be slightly elevated as they get to the vicinity depending on how they got there, i.e. cycle, walked a distance etc.
Test both adults and children – a temperature of above 37.9 degrees is a high temperature.
Remember that temperature checking is not a way to prevent the coronavirus but may alert personnel on site that someone is displaying symptoms (elevated temperature).
Ensure a process is put in place if symptoms are displayed and this is communicated with your members
British Gymnastics recommend that anyone displaying any symptoms should not enter the venue.
- Should gymnasts wear face masks/PPE during their sessions?
Both British Gymnastics and the government do not recommend the use of masks/face coverings during sports activities. All forms of face coverings may restrict breathing efficiency and should not be used during exercise except on specific advice from a physician.
Gymnasts can wear masks whilst not on apparatus, between time in apparatus, if they so wish, but masks should not be worn whilst on equipment or performing any form of gymnastics elements, including warm ups/cool downs.
- Should coaches wear Face Masks/PPE throughout their session? If coaches are wearing PPE can they support gymnasts?
DCMS guidance does not make it compulsory for coaches to wear a mask/face covering, but coaches can choose to wear one following recent Government guidance around wearing them in shops and enclosed spaces.
Coaches should adhere to social distancing guidelines, therefore would not need PPE. PPE would be recommended for cleaning and first aid purposes and this should be with a fluid repellent mask, gloves and aprons.
Social distancing must always be adhered to and no contact is permitted between coaches and gymnasts, or gymnasts and gymnasts until the government remove/review social distancing requirements even whilst wearing PPE.
Activity delivered should be appropriate for socially distanced coaching and no close spotting/supporting is permitted under the current guidelines. Download your social distance coaching tips here.
- How often should equipment be cleaned?
The assessment of cleaning needs and frequency of cleaning for each gym area and the equipment within remains the club’s individual responsibility based on users, cleaning policy and equipment being used. Cleaning practices must follow the user instructions and the cleaning product directions. Clearing requirement should be included in the risk assessment.
Hand sanitisation and stopping those with symptoms entering the venue are important measures to help reduce the risk of transmission.
- Should coaches remain with the same group for the whole session or can they rotate?
Where possible coaches and gymnasts should remain with the same group to limit the risk of transmission.
As far as possible, where workers are split into teams or shift groups, they should remain in those groups to limit contact and therefore limit the risk of transmission.
- Can gymnasts share hand-held equipment (e.g. hoops/bean bags), personal equipment (e.g. handguards) and/or chalk?
It is recommended that personal equipment e.g. chalk/hand guards/gloves & loops are taken home after each session and not left in the gym due to the risk of transmission. Hand equipment and personal equipment must not be shared. Each gymnast must have their own equipment (rhythmic apparatus, handguards, gloves and loops, conditioning aids including ankle weights, elastic bands, rollers etc). Gymnasts should refrain from spitting on their hand guards and should use their own water spray.
Clubs should carefully review their use of hand equipment and toys (pre-school/recreational sessions) with the associated cleaning needs and risks according to the materials they are made of and any cleaning related instructions. Activities should prioritise apparatus free activities or activities with wooden or plastic equipment (plastic balls instead of beanbags, or balloons, or wooden/plastic blocks).
British Gymnastics recommends that communal chalk bowls be removed, and gymnasts should use their own chalk, in a clearly labelled container and not share the chalk with anybody else. This chalk should be kept in their possession and not left in the gym. If you wish to remove chalk from your sessions, you should follow the guidelines as set out by British Gymnastics cleaning schedule. You would need to satisfy yourself that if you remove the use of chalk, gymnasts can still safely carry out the activity or find an alternative product.
- How often should hand sanitisation take place?
It is good practice to have hand sanitizing stations around the gym so that gymnasts and coaches can keep up good hand hygiene. The number of stations is dependant on the size of your facility and should be assessed within your risk assessment. In smaller facilities, it may be only necessary to have hand sanitizing stations at entry and exit points. Where possible, gymnasts should use their own hand sanitiser.
- Is it a requirement to have a COVID-19 Officer?
Each club should have a competent person who is responsible for ensuring there are measures in place to mitigate the risk of Covid-19 within the club. This person could be your director, head coach, welfare officer or a dedicated person within the gym. They do not need to be a Covid-19 officer, they should be responsible for ensuring the risk assessment is carried out and the control measures are in place and being adhered to.
- What are the clubs’ responsibilities under the Test and Trace system?
- Should participants also be washing their feet before, during, after sessions?
It is good practice for gymnasts to wash their hands or use hand sanitizer on a regular basis throughout the session. This can be before and after using equipment. Feet do not carry the same level of risk as hands, so foot hygiene is not as necessary as hand hygiene. However, it may be good practice to wear gym shoes or suitable foot coverings as long as they can be washed between each session. The footwear should be appropriate for training.
- What to do if someone contracts COVID-19?
Should a known Covid-19 case or someone becomes unwell in the training environment or an individual has be identified as a contact of a known case the individual/s in question should be placed in isolation and follow the relevant home country health authority guidelines. The welfare officer and the person responsible for Covid-19 should be immediately informed. Instances must be notified immediately to the local Health Protection Unit (or home country equivalent). Anybody displaying symptoms or anybody who has been in contact with an infected person, should be advised not to return to the gym until they have been tested and followed the guidance set out by the NHS.
All known cases need to be reported to RIDDOR and British Gymnastics. More information can be found in the Step Forward Toolkit.
- What are the regulations for groups who may struggle with adhering to social distancing e.g. pre-school participants/participants with certain disabilities?
Social distancing should be maintained between all users of facilities including individuals, groups, teams, teachers, trainers and coaches unless users come from the same household or to manage needs on account of a disability when additional mitigation will be essential.
You may need to consider suspending or modifying activities that are not permitted or cannot be undertaken without contravening social distancing guidelines within available facilities. Modifications could include:
• Within Preschool sessions, you may require parents or carers take part in the activity. Factor this into your activity, space and equipment planning and ensure that you amend your ratios accordingly to meet the government guidelines for groups.
• Gymnasts may require a carer to support them in their sessions. If this is the case, you must ensure they are considered when planning your activity, the space being used and the impact on your ratios.
• If carers are within the session, ensure they are also aware of the safety and social distancing measures that you have in place. These would include procedures for safely arriving and leaving the gym and moving around the space.
• Some gymnasts may have a Personal Evacuation Plan in the event of emergencies. Ensure you update this in line with any changes you have made to your venue and procedures.
- Will British Gymnastics require coaches to undergo specific COVID-19 Training?
Our Health and Safety experts Agility have said that there is currently no requirement for clubs to complete a COVID-19 training course. This may change if the government deems it a requirement. There are a number of course providers that are offering the course therefore it would be a personal choice if the club choose to complete the course.
It is recommended that coaches are kept abreast with government guidance and understand the requirements outlined by the government. It is also recommended that you keep updated with the government guidelines. Staff should also understand the requirements outlined under social distancing, cleaning processes and what to do if someone displays any symptoms through an induction on returning to working.
You can also read the Government guidelines on Covid-19 to keep up to date on all the latest guidance. This can be found on your home countries government website.