COVID guidance update (updated 24 February 2022)

Updated 24 February 2022

As of 24 February 2022, we're in the UK Government's 'Living with Covid-19' phase of their response to the coronavirus pandemic.
This means that there are now no coronavirus-related legal restrictions in place.

Updated 13 December 2021

We are aware the UK Government has revised its guidance for COVID-19 following the spread of Omicron. At this stage, this revised guidance does not impact generally on grassroots athletics and running.

Should this change, we will provide further details on our website and via our social media channels at the earliest opportunity.

In the meantime, we would urge registered members, athletes and all participants in the sport to follow the UK Government’s revised guidance currently in place.

Updated 15 July 2021

On Monday 12 July, the Prime Minister confirmed the timeline as England moves to Step 4 of the UK Government’s roadmap.

As of Monday 19 July, most restrictions in England relating to COVID-19 will be eased. This of course is very positive for the return of athletics and running across the country.

The Key facts

  • There are no legal restrictions around numbers gathering across both indoor and outdoor settings. This means all venues and events can take place with no limit on participant and spectator numbers. Notwithstanding the normal risk assessments and event management practice must be adhered to.
  • There is no legal requirement for clubs, facilities, coaches or competition providers to collect data for test and trace or to display a QR code.
  • Currently there are no legal requirements around COVID-19 tests or NHS passports pre- or post-participation.
  • There are no restrictions on social distancing or requirement for test and trace to be carried out.
  • UK Government guidance should be followed for international travel. Exemptions to some of the restrictions do exist for those athletes classified as ‘elite’ and these are detailed in the UK Government elite sport guidance
  • There are no restrictions on car sharing, minibus or coach travel.
  • Participants and volunteers can now travel across England and stay overnight to participate and volunteer within the sport. There are no restrictions on volunteers sharing rooms with people from outside their family.
  • There is an emphasis on personal responsibility for reducing risk. Clubs and competition providers should give clear guidance that individuals should not turn up to an athletics or running environment (club, coached or competition) if displaying symptoms of COVID-19.
  • Clubs and competition providers should make participants aware of:
    • Clear guidance to prospective participants on COVID-19 symptoms
    • Any safety measures they put in place to reduce risk
    • Reducing any potential transmission to staff
    • Ways to mitigate risk to vulnerable groups
  • Clubs and competition providers may (but this is NOT mandatory) ask participants to:
    • Sign in using a QR code and keep test and trace data
    • Take a COVID-19 test before participation
    • Wear a mask

This is fantastic news for the sport but the pandemic is far from over and is it important that we encourage the continued implementation of some of the safeguarding measures that as a society we have put into place over the last 18 months.

UK Government statistics suggest people are nervous about returning to normality. Only 40% of people feel comfortable going to indoor gyms, leisure centres or swimming pools. There is a nervousness of some individuals around the return to sport.  All individuals, clubs and competition providers should be aware of this and communicate effectively with all prospective participants to make them feel as comfortable as possible to take part in athletics and running activities.

Washing hands, using masks in certain situations (indoors) and maintaining social distance between one another have been proven to reduce the likelihood of spreading COVID-19. Therefore, it is important that all clubs, coaches, volunteers, and competition providers continue to carry out local risk assessments around the environment and participants to make sure they continue to provide the safest possible environment for everybody to participate and support the sport that we love.

It is also important to recognise that some measures that have been highlighted by England Athletics throughout the COVID-19 guidance issued since April 2020 should feature as standard in club risk assessments and health and safety processes i.e. maintaining safe and effective ratios of runners or athletes to leaders and coaches, and ensuring all participants are registered for training sessions with emergency contacts details available and health / fitness concerns identified.

Questions that club coaches and competition providers may wish to consider.

Q: Should masks be worn?

A: Individuals might still be classed as vulnerable to COVID-19, or just feel safer wearing a mask in certain crowded environments. Through a local risk assessment, the advice might be to continue wearing face masks in certain environments. Local operators of venues may encourage or mandate this as part of their operating procedure.

Q: Do we need to keep details for test and trace and QR codes?

A: Some athletes, runners and volunteers may wish to provide their contact details for test and trace or scan a QR code to ensure they receive updates if there is a breakout around a particular venue. Local operators of venues may encourage or mandate this as part of their operating procedure.

Q: What needs to be in a local risk assessment?

A: As with all risk assessments they need to be based on the local environment and participants at the session. Therefore, you may wish to include the following (amongst other mitigations) in your risk assessments:

  • Continuing the use of a COVID-19 coordinator
  • Implementing extra hygiene measures between users sharing equipment
  • Maintaining social distancing
  • The use of masks in crowded environments
  • One-way routes etc when accessing venues.

Q: What message should clubs, coaches and competition providers be putting out prior to sessions?

A: Clubs, coaches and competition providers should offer clear guidance to both participants and volunteers around expected behaviours prior to arriving at any sessions. It should be made clear to everybody potentially involved it is their personal responsibility not to turn up to the activity if displaying any of the COVID-19 symptoms as outlined in the UK Government guidance.  It is also a personal responsibility to assess personal risk at an event and be aware that clubs and competition providers may impose local restrictions for health and safety and COVID-19 reasons.

Useful links for further information:

Updated: 15 June 2021

Return to activity and competition - update

As the country moves from Step 2 towards Step 3 of the UK Government’s COVID-19 roadmap from Monday 17 May, we continue to make our athletics and running guidance available - including providing an update on spectators, indoor training, and travel.

Athletics and running roadmap summary of Step 3

For additional information specific to the return of track and field competition, please see the track and field competition section below.

Track and Field Competition (updated 26 March)

Ahead of competition restarting from 29 March, we are pleased to release a draft 2021 Competition Calendar (PDF 30kB) highlighting the major track and field events for the season as well as a few more local meets. In addition, we have also published a revised 2021 Operations Guide for Outdoor Track and Field Competition (PDF 350kB). These documents have been designed with the aim of helping athletes, coaches and competition organisers plan for the season ahead. With more detail expected from the UK Government soon, both of these documents may be subject to change.

Changes to the competition calendar will be made intermittently so we advise people to check regularly for any updates. Please contact either Nichola Skedgel or Martin Rush for calendar challenges where they apply to an England national level event.

Early competitions will be organised under COVID-19 secure guidelines, as last summer. However, we are aiming to bring back 5,000m and 10,000m racing in Step 1 (29 March) of the UK Government road map and will update everyone as we get more information. We hope to be able to remove all remaining restrictions in Step 4 (21 June) but will be guided by the UK Government road map.

England Championships are being planned on the scheduled dates. If restrictions mean we have to apply any limitations we will make this information available as soon as possible.

We look forward to an exciting season of athletics.

Training prior to competition

We strongly recommend a period of training and preparation for all athletes and clubs prior to any competition being undertaken. Only when athletes, coaches, parents and clubs are confident that the training preparation is in place should athletes undertake competition.

Road running competition

runbritain have now updated their guidance around road race licences (25 March).

Clubs and race providers can apply for licences now via the runbritain website

Trail, walks, fell and mountain competition

We are also working with the Trail, Fell and Walks Associations with regards to mapping restrictions that may apply as we go through spring. More information can be found via their websites.

Again, we would like to thank everyone involved in the sport, from clubs, runners, athletes, coaches, leaders, officials, administrators, volunteers, facility providers, competition providers, parents and carers for their continued support, patience and understanding whilst adhering to the UK Government’s response to the coronavirus pandemic.

The physical and mental health and wellbeing of all our members and their loved ones remains the priority throughout this challenging period so it is vital everyone adheres to the UK Government’s national COVID-19 restrictions thus ensuring its four-step roadmap can be achieved successfully.


Guidance update 8 January (Nationwide Lockdown Restrictions)

Following the UK Government’s announcement on Monday 4 January of a new national lockdown, regrettably our guidance for athletics and running must reflect these enforced Covid-19 restrictions across England.

As a result of everyone being required to stay at home, except for specific purposes as outlined by the UK Government’s guidance, the impact on our sport includes the following with immediate effect and until further notice:

  • The suspension of all face-to-face indoor and outdoor club / group activity.
  • The suspension of all indoor track and field competitions.
  • The suspension of all outdoor competitions including track and field, cross country, road, trail, fell and multi-terrain running.
  • The suspension of all face-to-face coaches’ and officials’ education.
  • The suspension of any other face-to-face club / group training sessions, events, athlete camps, running groups or other social events as well as club committee or other meetings.
  • Indoor gyms and facilities will remain closed.

What can take place?

The UK Government has confirmed that elite sport is able to continue in line with the strict protocols and measures that are in place. Similarly, organised outdoor sport for disabled people can continue and we will provide further details on this once we have the required information from the UK Government.

  • The UK Government has confirmed that individuals can exercise outside of their home in a public outdoor space, limited to once per day and not involving travel outside their local area, as follows:
    • By themselves
    • With people they live with
    • With their support bubble (if legally permitted to form one)
    • In a childcare bubble where providing childcare
    • Or, when on their own, with one person from another household
  • Virtual training sessions can be delivered by qualified coaches.
  • Virtual competitions can still take place. Click here for a list of virtual road races.
  • England Athletics will continue to coordinate the Weekly 30.

Anyone taking part in any virtual activity should at all times observe the above restrictions.

1:1 coaching (updated 8 Jaunary)

  • 1:1 coaching for over 18s is permitted.
  • For safeguarding reasons, England Athletics does not allow 1:1 coaching with under-18s and vulnerable adults unless a parent or carer can supervise safety from a distance and in a way that does not contravene UK Government guidelines for leaving the home. Coaches can provide virtual coaching sessions to under-18s providing that parental consent has been given and there is no 1:1 communication without the parent or carer being present. The Child Protection in Sport Unit have released some current guidance on remote teaching and coaching here which all clubs and coaches are recommended to read and implement.
  • All coaches must have a valid UKA Coaching Licence and must adhere to the terms and conditions of their licence.

Sport England guidance states that:

  • Sessions must take place in a public outdoor spaces, as long as social distancing is maintained. Sessions can’t take place in private gardens. (Public outdoor places include: 1) parks, beaches, countryside accessible to the public, forests; 2) public gardens (whether or not you pay to enter them); 3) the grounds of a heritage site; 4) playgrounds)
  • 1:1 coaching can take place multiple times in one day. Social distancing must be always maintained, clients shouldn’t overlap with one another and equipment should be sanitized between athletes/runners
  • Coaches must carry out a thorough risk assessment before engaging in any session. This should include particular consideration for under-18s and vulnerable adults
  • Any sessions can only include one coach with one individual, and so cannot take place with multiple people from one household
  • People who provide essential support (e.g. carers) to disabled people are exempt, and don’t count towards gathering limits. Therefore, disabled participants can be supported by a carer(s)/personal assistant(s) while taking part in 1:1 coaching. This can be in addition to others from your household, support bubble or one person from another household – this could be a coach.

We believe athletics and running play a vital role in improving the physical and mental health and wellbeing of participants of all ages and abilities and remain in constant dialogue with the UK Government to ensure a full, and safe, return to the sport as soon as possible.

To ensure athletics and running can still play an important role in the lives of many people during these challenging times, we continue to provide clubs, affiliated athletes, runners including RunTogether groups, coaches and leaders, officials and families with access to support, resources and activities through our Athletics and Running @home campaign.

We are also aware of the impact Covid-19 has had on clubs and offer a reminder that funding is available through our new Club Support Fund.

Please continue to follow all the latest news and updates for your local area as these could be subject to change at short notice, with UK Government advice superseding the above guidance relating to athletics and running.

Again, we would like to thank everyone involved in the sport, from clubs, runners, athletes, coaches, leaders, officials, administrators, volunteers, facility providers, competition providers, parents and carers for their continued support, patience and understanding whilst adhering to our guidance issued in accordance with the UK Government’s response to the coronavirus pandemic.

The physical and mental health and wellbeing of all our members and their loved ones remains the priority throughout this difficult and challenging period so it is vital everyone adheres to the UK Government’s new national Covid-19 restrictions until further notice.