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Swim England/Institute of Swimming Coronavirus (Covid-19) FAQs

Following the recent announcement from the Government on 12 October of a new three tier system for Covid-19 restrictions, we have updated our FAQs below based on our interpretation of the new system.

We will continue to update and amend this page as more information becomes available and issues are further clarified by the government.

If you have a question that is not answered below please do email guidance@swimming.org

Coronavirus FAQs

Click or tap one of the topics below to head straight to those FAQs. Then click or tap the panels to reveal the answer to each question.

General questions

The government has introduced a three-tier system of restrictions designed to counter the steep rise in coronavirus (Covid-19) cases.

Depending on the situation in the local area, each part of the country is allocated into one of these categories, each with their own set of restrictions:

  • Medium (Tier 1)
  • High (Tier 2)
  • Very High (Tier 3)

It depends.

Pools are allowed to remain open in tier 1 and tier 2.

Pools may be required to close in tier 3 areas but this will be a matter for the local area so could vary from location to location. However, even if a local authority makes the decision to close leisure facilities in that area, they are still able to provide sessions for elite sport, young people and disabled people.

School swimming pools are allowed to remain open for educational purposes in all areas.

This depends on the area's coronavirus alert level.

Medium (Tier 1): Yes, however, spectators must follow the ‘rule of six’.

High/very high (Tier 2/3): No indoor spectators are allowed. Adults who are acting in a safeguarding/supervising capacity are exempt. This exemption would include parents of children undertaking learn to swim sessions.

Yes. Under-18s are exempt from restrictions and can take part in supervised sporting activity indoors and outdoors.

This includes indoor team sports (eg Water Polo) where the national governing body has produced the relevant ‘return to recreation team sport framework’, or meets current government guidance. Swim England’s Water Polo guidance has been signed off by the government and can therefore continue.

This applies to all coronavirus alert levels.

This depends on the area's coronavirus alert level.

People may travel into any tier area if it is necessary to enable disability sport, sport for educational purposes, or supervised sport and physical activity for under-18s to take place. This would cover club sessions (for under 18s) and learn to swim sessions (for under 18s).

People in tier 1 and 2 should not travel into very high (tier 3) areas “to take part in physical activity”, e.g for a casual swim, unless it is necessary to enable individual exercise or to exercise for people from the same household or support bubble.

Similarly people living in tier 3 areas should not travel into tier 1 or 2 areas for a casual swim unless it is necessary to enable individual exercise or to exercise for people from the same household or support bubble.

Yes. People who provide essential support (e.g. carers) to disabled people are exempt, and do not count towards the six people in a group (where the 'rule of six' applies).

Social distancing should be maintained where possible, but in some circumstances people will need physical assistance to be active.

This may require support from someone outside of their household or support person.

It’s important that you discuss this with the person to consider their needs and preferences.

No. The wider sports facility is not subject to the 10pm – 5am closure restrictions.

Bars and restaurants, including any food or drink facilities inside a leisure facility, must close between 10pm and 5am, but not the whole leisure centre.

Learn to Swim questions:

In Tier 1 areas government guidance states that “businesses and venues can continue to operate, in a COVID-secure manner, other than those that remain closed in law.” Therefore our interpretation is that learn to swim sessions are able to continue in these areas.

In Tier 2 areas government guidance states that “businesses and venues can continue to operate, in a COVID-secure manner, other than those that remain closed in law.”

The guidance also states that exercise classes and organised sports can continue indoors “if it is possible for people to avoid mixing with people they do not live with or share a support bubble with, or for youth or disability sport.” Therefore our interpretation is that learn to swim sessions are able to continue in these areas. In Tier 3 areas government guidance states exercise classes and organised sport “will only be permitted indoors if it is possible for people to avoid mixing with people they do not live with (or share a support bubble with), or for youth or disability sport.” Therefore, again our interpretation is that learn to swim sessions are able to continue in these areas.

It remains crucial for operators and providers of learn to swim sessions to ensure that the Swim England Return to Pool guidance for Swimming Lessons is being adhered to at all times.

Club questions:

All aquatic clubs operating in a Medium (tier 1) Local Covid Alert Area remain unaffected by the latest Government announcements and should continue to operate as previously, following the Swim England Returning to the Pools Guidance for Clubs closely and ensuring social distancing is maintained as outlined in the guidance.

In Very High (tier 3) Local Alert Areas, there is the scope for areas to close leisure facilities including pools. In a High (tier 2) or Very High (tier 3) Local Covid Alert Area (where pools remain open), the guidance released by Government does not change the activity that can be undertaken by swimming and diving clubs as individual sports. These clubs should follow the Swim England Returning to the Pools Guidance for Clubs.

For water polo and clubs in a High (tier 2) or Very High (tier 3) Local Covid Alert Area, competitive activity can continue for under 18-year-olds as per the Swim England Water Polo Return to Team Sport guidance. Similarly, artistic swimming activity can continue for under 18-year-olds.

Over 18-year-olds in High (tier 2) and Very High (tier 3) areas can only take part in Water Polo or artistic swimming with other people from the same household or support bubble. Over-18s playing sport for educational purposes, including curriculum and playing for a college or university team are exempt.

No. The rule of six applies to both adults and children.

The exemption for children does not apply to adults over the age of 18. If an adult (aged 18 or over) takes part in organised indoor sport alongside children (under 18), the 'rule of six' applies, so this can only take place in groups of up to six people (adults and children combined).

No. Where the 'rule of six' applies, coaches and instructors are exempt, however, they must remain socially distanced from players where possible during play/activity.

Should match officials not be able to remain socially distanced due to their role in the sport, their sport should conduct a risk assessment to see if other mitigations may be necessary.

Coaches/instructors are able to coach multiple groups in back-to-back sessions but sports and venue operators should consider how best to minimise exposure (e.g. by limiting the number of sessions run, or the number of groups coached), as part of their risk assessment.

People can continue to attend and deliver outdoor exercise classes and personal training sessions with groups of more than six, as long as the activity is formally organised and is socially distant.

This must be by a qualified instructor, club, NGB, company or charity and follow the sport’s governing body guidance.

This is the case in all alert levels.

Ultimately if an athlete usually trains for 2 clubs in any one week and this is still able to happen safely then this is acceptable with the understanding that the athlete remains in the same bubble at each of the clubs and that they are following the club guidance.

If a person in a ‘bubble/lane’ shows symptoms related to Covid-19 they are asked to remove themselves from the session and go for a test. They will need to stay away from the session until the results of that test are known. The others swimmers in the lane can continue to swim until the results are known.

We recommend advising the rest of the bubble/lane to stay away from the session for a period of 14 days.

The individual should self-isolate immediately for 14 days as per Government guidance.

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