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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.


COVID 19 is mainly spread through airborne transmission and occasionally through contact with contaminated surfaces. Good respiratory hygiene, ventilation 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
  • Stay outside or in a well ventilated space where possible.  Avoid poorly ventilated spaces, but if you do encourage distancing, face coverings, etc, to reduce the risk.  
  • Always follow government guidance for your area. 

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. 

Hygiene and cleaning

Government guidance on hygiene measure across the UK has been consistent throughout the COVID-19 pandemic: 

  • Regular hand washing for at least 20 seconds 
  • The use of alcohol gel hand sanitisers 
  • The regular cleaning of work and other surfaces with an antiseptic cleaning solution 

Hand hygiene measures should be strictly followed. This should involve regular handwashing, but if handwashing facilities are not freely available, alcohol hand gels should be used regularly throughout any activity. Any surfaces used should be wiped down using a safe disinfectant solution. The use of shared games or other activity material should be minimised where possible, and cleaned if this is not possible.  

There is no requirement to check temperatures on arrival at Scouts activities. It is important to clearly communicate expectations with leaders, parents and young people so that everyone knows not to attend if they have any symptoms. There should also be a plan in place in case anyone presents symptoms during the activities.  

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




Northern Ireland

Social Distancing

Social distancing is an effective way to help limit the spread of COVID 19. The approach to social distancing now varies across the different nations, this is explained below.

Protective Equipment

Government guidance around the use of personal protective equipment (e.g. gloves and face masks) 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. Unless otherwise specified adult only activities follow the government guidance for social gathering in the relevant jurisdiction.

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 10 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.

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: