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Protecting ourselves and others

Guidance on how to protect everyone involved in the Scouts and support those made more vulnerable by the current situation.


We still don’t know exactly how COVID-19 spreads from person to person. People can become infected when droplets land directly on them, or they touch contaminated objects or surfaces. Good respiratory hygiene and hand washing are therefore very important. 

You can reduce your risk of getting and spreading the infection by: 

  • avoiding direct hand contact with your eyes, nose and mouth 
  • maintaining good hand hygiene (see below) 
  • avoiding direct contact with people who have a respiratory illness and avoid using their personal items e.g. mobile phone 
  • covering your nose and mouth with the inside of your elbow if you cough or sneeze, or use a disposable tissue which you then dispose of in the nearest bin 
  • following social distancing measures 
  • self-isolating if you, or a member of your family, have symptoms, or if you have been contacted by a contact tracer as having been in contact with someone else who has been confirmed as having the virus 

Things to think about 

Protecting yourself and others through robust hygiene arrangements, social distancing and following guidance for face coverings will help stop the spread of COVID-19. In some circumstances, you may have people challenge what you're doing, so make sure you're following the guidance and seek support from your line manager if needed. If you have any contact or challenge from external agencies such as your local authority, please follow the guidance in Knowing what to do if something goes wrong. 

Guidance on hand and general hygiene for each of the four nations:




Northern Ireland

Protective Equipment

Government guidance around the use of personal protective equipment (e.g. gloves and facemasks) has changed as the pandemic has progressed. It's varied in the four nations of the UK. In general terms, the use of disposable gloves is not recommended but the wearing of face coverings is in different circumstances, when in enclosed spaces for prolonged periods of time e.g. in shops, on public transport. Face coverings are required to be worn by certain people participating in Scouts activities indoors. It's important to remember that a face covering is not the same as a medical mask, face coverings can be easily sourced and suit the wearer. 

Detailed guidance from each of the four nations in the UK is listed below.

Attendance records and test and trace

A Test and Trace process has now been put in place across the UK. This means that any new confirmed infected person will be asked to identify with whom they have been in contact. Contact tracers will then try to find these contacts and advise them to self-isolate for 14 days, in case they have also contracted the virus.

As we return to face to face meetings and activity, it's critical that a detailed register of those attending (including adult volunteers, young leaders and parent helpers) any face to face Scout activity is kept and is readily available for at least 21 days, or in line with your local retention policy, whichever is longer, to facilitate contact tracing. You should then revert to your normal data retention policy. This record should identify which groups young people were in, as well as identifying which groups adults interacted with.

The important thing is if contacted, you can help the Test and Trace service connect up with others who will have come into contact with an individual through their Scouts activities. Don’t forget that if someone has been confirmed with COVID, and been in contact with Scouts within the infectious period, this would meet the threshold for being a reportable incident so please complete the online incident form to report this to HQ.  

Details of the contact tracing process in each of the four nations




Northern Ireland

Supporting vulnerable members and those with underlying health conditions

Some people, known to be at high risk if they contract the virus, have been identified and placed in a ‘shielded’ group. The UK and devolved governments have identified those who need to be shielded from the effects of the virus, including those with certain underlying health conditions. (See Annex 1). For the purposes of this guidance these people are in Group 1. 

In addition, others who may be at higher risk from the effects of the coronavirus have been identified including members with other underlying health conditions – including pregnant women. (See Annex 2). For the purpose of this guidance these people are in Group 2. 

Finally, we're aware that other factors have been identified which may make people at higher risk including age, gender, geography, ethnicity and socioeconomic status. (See Annex 3). 

Young people in particular have said in national surveys that they are anxious and fearful of returning to a ‘normal’ life after nearly three months in lockdown. Adult volunteers need to be supportive of young people across all age groups as they return to section meetings and activities. (See annex 4).  

Government guidance on shielding and social distancing differs in each of the four nations of the UK. Individuals must follow the guidance relevant to their place of residence. Leaders will need to have a supportive discussion with their youth members and their parents/carers and with fellow leaders who fall into these two vulnerable groups to explore and agree the best way for them to re-engage with Scouting. This may not be face to face Scouting depending on their individual circumstances.   

There's a great deal of support on supporting adults and young people who have mental health and wellbeing concerns or challenges. Leaders and volunteers are encouraged to seek appropriate assistance or training: