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First steps back

Outdoor sports to return as part of new exercise guidelines

Some of Scotland’s largest outdoor non-contact sports have published detailed guidance to help members keep active and return to play as part of the Scottish Government route map out of the Coronavirus (COVID-19) crisis.

The Scottish Government and sportscotland have been working in close partnership with several Scottish Governing Bodies of Sport (SGBs) and physical activity organisations to develop detailed plans for outdoor a variety of activities including canoeing, cycling, golf, hill running, lawn bowls, mountaineering, orienteering, rowing, sailing, tennis and walking.

The guidance, which is part of the first phase of the planned transition out of lockdown, will see public health advice changed to incorporate outdoor sport as part of daily exercise activities, but only where it is safe to do so. Participants will be permitted to travel short distances from their local community as part of the new guidelines but are being encouraged to stay local.

The guidance will come into effect from Friday 29 May and includes detailed information on areas such as social distancing when playing, access to facilities and general health and safety.

Get active responsibly

Sports Minister Joe FitzPatrick said: “Like me, I’m sure that many people across the country will be delighted to see the resumption of some of our favourite outdoor activities, with all the associated physical and mental health benefits they bring. I would encourage everyone to get out and get active, but to do so in a safe and responsible way.”

Chief Executive of Bowls Scotland, Allan McMillan, said: “Our sport has huge benefits in terms of physical activity and mental wellbeing and I’m sure many bowlers can’t wait to get back out onto the green safely. We must stress that this is not a return to our sport as we knew it before, and public health should continue to be everyone’s priority at this challenging time.

“If we all carefully follow the guidelines and use good individual judgement this will ensure that in time, we can move towards a fully phased re-introduction of the game we all know and love.”

Chief Executive of RYA Scotland, James Allan, said: “This is good news for outdoor activities and I am pleased that the extension to exercise specifically includes sailing and motor boating. We have been working hard with other Governing Bodies, colleagues across the RYA and both sportscotland and the Scottish Government to formulate guidance that recognises the importance of the new exercise guidelines and that Phase One is a small but important step a process that takes time.

“We are all looking forward to the opportunity to go afloat as part of daily exercise activities but there are still important restrictions that apply in line with the latest public health guidance that we must stick to. The Scottish Government has been clear, this is still a public health crisis and we are looking at an extension to exercise options, not a carte blanche return to boating and we will continue to work with partners as we move through the coming phases in time.”

Further to today’s publication of sport-specific guidance, sportscotland will continue to work with all partners across the sector to further develop plans for the return of sport at all levels, when it is safe to do so.

Chief Executive of sportscotland, Stewart Harris, said: “We welcome the announcement that current Scottish Government public health guidelines for daily exercise will be extended to include outdoor sports.

"While this is good news, the most pressing priority remains public health and wellbeing.

"As such, it is crucial that participants, and everyone connected with the sports, continue to adhere to the latest government guidance and the advice issued by the relevant SGB to ensure the safety of all those involved.

“Every sport has its own unique set of challenges and it is vital that those individual circumstances are carefully considered in line with government guidance. We will continue to work with all sports as they look to increase opportunities for their members to incorporate sport, where possible and safe to do so, into regular exercise activities. It is vital that everyone continues to work together to make sure we overcome the challenges faced across the sector.”

Find out more

About for the latest published outdoor sport and physical activity guidelines. This guidance and list of activities is being regularly reviewed and updated.

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