Keeping your facilities fit for sport

Archived content: This content is no longer updated and is provided for reference purposes only

If needed for reference or any possible return legal restrictions the level specific guidance (Getting your Facilities Fit for Sport) is available providing advice and guidance to owners and operators of sports facilities to help them plan and prepare for re-opening of sports facilities.

The information below is also available to download in PDF format - Keeping your facilities fit for sport



Scottish Government lifted most of the legal restrictions relating to Coronavirus (COVID-19) when Scotland moved to ‘Beyond Level 0’ on 9 August 2021. This included restrictions on physical distancing and the size of social gatherings. Additionally, no businesses will have to legally remain closed. 

Whilst these changes mean the end of most restrictions for sport and physical activity, it does not signal the end of the pandemic. COVID-19 is a disease that will need to be managed for the foreseeable future. To maintain progress in returning to more normality, it is important that people continue to follow a set of baseline measures covered by Scottish Government guidance and, where relevant, legislation.

This means everyone playing their part by:

  • Maintaining good hand hygiene
  • Maintaining good surface cleaning.
  • Ensuring good ventilation.
  • Wearing face coverings.
  • Continued compliance with Test and Protect, including self-isolation when necessary.
  • Ongoing need for outbreak management capability, including active surveillance.
  • Continue to encourage a greater degree of working from home than pre-COVID-19. 
  • Continue to have a Covid officer in place and undertakes the e-Covid officer training.

We recommend you keep up to date with the Scottish Government’s approach to managing COVID-19 Scottish Government: Coronavirus in Scotland Guidance. Facility operators, clubs and participants should be aware of updates and may need to adapt to any changes in the guidance.

Who is this guidance intended for?

This guidance is intended for operators of indoor and outdoor sports facilities. It provides guidance on the baseline measures, and what operators need to consider to ensure participants, staff and volunteers continue to be protected and should be read in conjunction with the Latest sport and physical activity guidance (

Additional considerations

It is the responsibility of each facility operator to ensure that full risk assessments, processes and mitigating actions continue to be applied before any sport or leisure activity takes place and to check if the activity is in an area that is subject to additional Scottish Government localised measures and restrictions. 

Where a local outbreak has been reported, sport and physical activity operators, in all settings, should review their risk assessment and consider if additional mitigating actions should be put in place to reduce risk. 

Scottish governing bodies of sport (SGBs), clubs and participants should be made aware that the lifting of restrictions does not mean that all facilities will open immediately or operate as they did before.

Operators must ensure that all sport-specific organised activity is planned and programmed in accordance with the guidance issued by SGBs. Latest sport and physical activity guidance (

Please note that it is now more important than ever that operators of facilities develop inclusive plans for everyone, ensuring extra support for people who may need it to be active.

The main way of spreading COVID-19 is through close contact with an infected person. When someone with COVID-19 breathes, speaks, coughs or sneezes, they release particles (droplets and aerosols) containing the virus that causes COVID-19. These particles can be breathed by another person. Surfaces and equipment can be contaminated with COVID-19 when people who are infected cough or sneeze near them or if they touch them. Good hygiene and good surface cleaning are important control measures to reduce the risk of droplet or surface transmission.

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Good hygiene

Good hygiene practices, such as frequent handwashing, play an important role in reducing the risk of COVID-19 transmission.

  • Provide hand sanitising stations and ensure any hand-washing facilities are fit for purpose with warm water and soap available. Pay particular attention to high-traffic or high-risk areas, such as reception and entrance foyers, doorways, lifts, toilets and washing facilities.  
  • Ensure hand sanitising stations are checked and refilled regularly.
  • Online booking and contactless payment should be used where possible.
  • Face coverings should be worn inside facilities other than when participating in sport or physical activity or where any exemption applies.
  • Operators should continue to follow Scottish Government guidance on health, safety, and hygiene measures, including face-covering advice.

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Good cleaning

Good cleaning practices, including frequent cleaning of surfaces, play an important role in reducing the risk of COVID-19 transmission.

  • Cleaning checks and cleaning standards should be implemented in line with your cleaning plan.
  • Clean surfaces frequently, paying particular attention to high-traffic touchpoints, such as door handles, lift buttons and handrails.
  • Changing rooms, showers and toilet facilities should be cleaned frequently, paying particular attention to high-traffic touchpoints, such as push buttons, taps, door handles and screens or cubicle dividers.
  • Ensure all equipment is cleaned between users.
  • Shared equipment should be cleaned between users. Spray, paper towels and clear instructions should be provided for participants, instructing them to wipe down equipment before and after use. Visible signage should be clearly displayed for users.
  • Clear spaces by removing waste and personal belongings after use.
  • Make facilities easy to clean by removing unnecessary items.
  • In the event there is a suspected or known case of COVID-19, the following guidance should be followed COVID-19 - guidance for non-healthcare settings

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Good ventilation

In enclosed or indoor spaces, good ventilation is an important control measure to reduce the risk of aerosol transmission of COVID-19.

This section aims to help facility operators better understand good ventilation within sports spaces and signposts them to other sources of specialist guidance.

How to ensure good ventilation in activity spaces?

People exhale carbon dioxide (CO2) when they breathe out. If there is a build-up of CO2 in an area, it can indicate that ventilation needs to be improved.

We recommend that C02 levels are monitored within each activity space before, during and after the activity to ensure that good ventilation is achieved when they are in use. This information may be used to set venue specific capacities relevant to the activity and the space. This applies to those both with and without mechanical ventilation systems.

Monitoring CO2 can be done by using either hand-held or fixed continuous wall-mounted monitors.

Hand-held monitors are a cheaper solution but require staff to manually check at agreed intervals. (i.e. before, during and after a class). They will not identify high levels of C02 between test times.

Fixed continuous wall-mounted monitors are more expensive but provide continuous data that will allow a fuller picture to be understood. They also can be linked to an alert when the concentrations exceed a set level.

A CO2 concentration of 800-1000ppm is the target reading within activity spaces in use.

When the recommended C02 levels are exceeded, the following measures should be considered:  

  • Open doors and windows, both during activities as well as breaks in between.
  • Reduce class sizes or occupancy levels.
  • Change programming to allow bigger spaces between sessions.
  • Add HEPA rated portable air purifiers, which increase the air change rate and remove the virus and pollutants from the air if sized correctly for the space.
  • Add fully mechanical ventilation solution.

CO2 measurements should be used as a broad guide to ventilation within a space rather than treating them as safe thresholds. It should be noted that CO2 monitors are less effective as an overall gauge of good ventilation in spaces used by lower numbers of people or people for short or varying periods of time such as reception areas, hallways or toilets.

In mechanically ventilated spaces:

Ventilation guidance from CIBSE identifies an airflow rate of 10l/p/s (litres per person per second) as a recommended minimum figure to ensure good ventilation.

In mechanically ventilated indoor spaces with COVID-19 in mind, the key recommended actions are:

  • Understand the ventilation system.
  • Understand and identify where there may be poorly ventilated spaces or areas.
  • Increase the ventilation rate as much as reasonably possible without compromising occupant thermal comfort; this may require changes to CO2 setpoints (for both mechanical ventilation and automated windows).
  • Avoid recirculation/transfer of air from one room to another unless there is no other way of providing a sufficient ventilation rate to all occupied spaces.
  • Recirculation of air within a single room is only acceptable when combined with a supply of outside air.

Air -conditioning systems

Some systems that are commonly known as ‘air conditioning’ or ‘air conditioning units’ warm or cool the air in a room and recirculate it but are not part of a wider ventilation system. These are also referred to as ‘comfort cooling’ or ‘comfort heating’. These systems do not deliver outside air and are therefore not diluting any airborne pathogens. Recirculation of air within a single room is only acceptable when it is combined with a supply of outside air.

Ducted air conditioning systems typically are part of a mechanical ventilation system. In this case, outside air is first ‘conditioned’ by being warmed, cooled or adjusting the humidity of air before being moved along ductwork and into a room. Ideally, recirculation/ transfer of air from one room to another should be avoided unless there is no other way of providing a sufficient ventilation rate to all occupied rooms.

In naturally ventilated spaces:

We recommend that external doors and windows be opened to allow in fresh air 15 minutes before activity and when activity spaces are in use.

Consideration should be given to fire doors, which should not be held open if it compromises the fire strategy of the building. Care should be taken to ensure that open windows do not cause a hazard to anyone moving outside or within activity spaces.

During the colder months, wind and indoor/outdoor temperature differences are greater, and therefore the openings do not have to be opened as wide to create the same airflow.

It is important to ensure that windows are open even if it is cooler outside. If it is windy, cold or raining, it may not be practical to fully open the windows, but they should be open as far as reasonably possible without causing discomfort.

It may be necessary to heat a room more than normal, or the space may be colder than previously experienced. Participants should be made aware of the changes and encouraged to wear more layers.

Where a room only has openable windows on one side, consideration should be given to areas within the room where air may become stagnant. It is generally considered that rooms can be well ventilated by single-sided ventilation if the depth of the room is less than twice the height. In deeper-plan rooms, it is advisable to use a local recirculation unit or fan at the back of the room to enhance air disturbance and reduce the risk of stagnant air.

More information on ventilation

CIBSE - Emerging from Lockdown

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Maximum capacity of building or activity spaces

The maximum capacity and safe capacity of the building and activity spaces within it is based on your risk assessment for the facility. This should consider the following:

  • Activities that will be undertaken and the spaces that will be used.
  • Maintaining good ventilation throughout the building and during physical activity.
  • Additional needs of any participants with disabilities.
  • Fire limits of the building and spaces.
  • Insurance requirements or limitations.

Keep your distance if you can

There is now no legal requirement for physical distancing and no limit on the numbers of people who can gather together to socialise.

Even though the law has changed, it is important people keep thinking about how the virus can be transmitted. This is particularly important for those who may be vulnerable and those who are yet to be fully vaccinated.  We recommend that operators think about how best to use the space available and also encourage the people within those spaces to ‘keep your distance if you can’.

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Consideration should be given to staggering the start time of classes/sessions to ensure waiting areas do not become crowded.

Programming gaps may be considered between classes to ensure good ventilation is achieved and to allow time for cleaning between sessions.

Changing & showers

Changing areas and showers can be used. These areas should be cleaned between users and facility operators should consider the implications of maintaining good ventilation when calculating the maximum capacity for these areas.  You should take particular care to keep these areas well ventilated as they can be areas of high risk. Open doors, windows and air vents, where possible, and ensure extractor fans work effectively. 

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Risk assessments

You must complete and implement a documented health and safety risk assessment that includes controls or processes covered in the guidance above, Scottish Government guidance and any other relevant guidance as well as any reasonable adjustments needed for staff or customers with disabilities. 

The risk assessment should cover each facility and the proposed activities for each activity space

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Test & protect

Facility operators should ensure that they continue to comply with the requirements of Scottish Government Test and Protect system.

Contact tracing and testing of close contacts will continue as we move forward through the pandemic, including ‘Beyond Level 0’. Test and Protect will change as the population become more protected by vaccination but will still play a role in mitigating clusters and outbreaks where they arise. 

Operators should continue to maintain customer records and follow applicable guidance available in the Test & Protect section of Return to Sport guidance

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Plans and procedures must be reviewed on an ongoing basis and take into consideration any lessons learned, the behaviour of users, specific challenges that have been identified, changes to industry standards and Scottish Government guidance.

  • Continually review and update existing operating policies and plans for sport
  • Review and update risks assessments if required
  • Review your practices with sportscotland contact for your sport or local authority
  • Review hygiene measures in line with any new Scottish Government guidance
  • Review your cleaning measures in line with any new Scottish Government guidance
  • Review the maximum capacity of your building and spaces within it in line with CO2 monitoring to ensure good ventilation and any new Scottish Government guidance.
  • Consider the potential for a re-emergence of a COVID-19 style pandemic and if restrictions are re-introduced. This may form the basis of a club business continuity plan

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Contact us

If you have any questions regarding the guidance, please get in touch with one of sportscotland’s
Facilities Project Managers at

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This guidance note is provided for general information only. sportscotland is not your adviser and any reliance you may place on this guidance is at your own risk. Neither sportscotland, nor any contributor to the content of this guidance, shall be responsible for any loss or damage of any kind, which may arise from your use of or reliance on this guidance note. Care has been taken over the accuracy of the content of this note but sportscotland cannot guarantee that the information is up to date or reflects all relevant legal requirements. The information and drawings contained in this guidance note are not site specific and therefore may not be suitable for your project, facility or event. We recommend that you obtain professional specialist technical and legal advice before taking, or refraining from, any action on the basis of information contained in this note.

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Date published: 20 August 2021
Date updated: 23 March 2022


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