Scotland is still in phase three of the transition out of lockdown but from today (14 September) a maximum of six people, from a maximum of two households, are now permitted to meet together.

That rule applies outdoors – including in private gardens – as well as indoors. And by indoors, of course, we mean people’s own homes, but also pubs and restaurants as well.

Children under the age of 12 don’t count towards the limit of six, but they do count towards the limit of two households.

For some organised indoor and outdoor activities, sports and exercise the rule of six people from two households does not apply. Find out the details here

For youth work the guidance states that carefully controlled groupwork activities can resume, up to a maximum of 30 children, young people and youth workers. The expectation is that young people aged 12 and over should still maintain physical distancing, while organisations may wish to consider beginning indoor activities with smaller groups to manage the distancing requirements.

The current guidance is that parks and greenspaces are open for unrestricted exercise with physical distancing. People are permitted to use public outdoor spaces for recreational purposes, for example to sit in a public space or sunbathe in a park.

Playgrounds, public gardens and sports pitches

Children aged 12 or under no longer need to physically distance.

Stand-alone facilities or communal spaces within parks such as playgrounds and sports pitches remain open along with public gardens. 

This is detailed in the Scottish Government's Coronavirus (COVID-19) Phase 3: staying safe and protecting others stating:

Outdoor sports courts are permitted to open. Participants should maintain strict physical distancing at all times when using outdoor sports courts.

Outdoor play parks and outdoor gym equipment can open, but strict physical distancing should be followed. The virus can be transmitted when you touch surfaces.

Children should not use a play park if it is crowded. If children use a play park they should be extra careful about hand hygiene and everyone should use an alcohol based hand rub (hand sanitiser) immediately before and after using the play equipment.

Play park owners or operators should take appropriate steps to ensure the safety of equipment and minimise the risk of transmission through users touching contaminated surfaces. This includes:

  • pre-opening checks ensure equipment is safe;
  • signs reinforcing the requirement for good hand hygiene and physical distancing;
  • marking out physical distancing and traffic flow where practical. It is recognised that play parks come in all shapes and sizes and for some signage may be sufficient.
  • increased litter/waste collection from bins should be arranged if appropriate.

Open facilities without staff, such as outdoor skate parks or cycle pump tracks can be used, provided physical distancing is maintained.

For a full summary of Phase 3 visit the Scottish Government website.

Previous guidance from on opening public and customer toilets is still in place.

The Scottish Outdoor Access code has updated their guidance for the public and land managers. 

Managing parks and greenspaces 

Managing Public Parks during Covid-19
This guide produced collaboratively by CFP with input from the National Lottery Heritage Fund, Local Government Association, National Trust, APSE, the Midlands Parks Forum and parks practitioners relates to guidance issued for England, but will be of interest to Scottish local authorities and greenspace managers. It is intended to help local authorities and other organisations who manage urban and country parks and wider greenspaces to think through how sites can be managed as lockdown restrictions ease. greenspace scotland will be working with the Park Managers Forum to prepare similar guidance for Scottish parks to complement guidance and advice developed by Scottish Government as we progress through Scotland’s Route Map.
COVID-19 Recovery Planning Guidance for countryside managers
Given the impact of COVID-19 on the sector, the Visitor Safety Group has decided to make this guidance freely available. The guidance seeks to cover the key areas all landowners and countryside managers will need to consider and assess when re-opening and managing outdoor public access sites / attractions and associated indoor spaces during COVID-19. It should be underpinned by the regulations, guidance and advice from the relevant Government.

Do you have any good practice examples about how parks and greenspaces are being managed differently and to support safe use of parks and social distancing? If yes, please do send us details [email protected]