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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 contact headquarters []  for more support.

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.  

Make sure 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.

Social distancing is still encouraged when in poorly ventilated spaces (note: any requirements by facilities and external providers must be followed).

Protective Equipment

Government guidance around the use of personal protective equipment (face coverings) has changed as the pandemic has progressed.  The wearing of face coverings is no longer mandatory in any setting across UK Scouts but members should be supported in wearing them should they wish to do so. There are still some locations (external providers / facilities) which may require this and these rules must be followed if you wish to use their facilities.

Attendance records and test and trace

Test and Trace processes are changing across the UK, you need to follow the requirements in your location which you can find on the links below. Knowing who was present at activities is helpful for identifying who someone came into contact with should you need to identify them for test and trace purposes.  

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: