Covid-19 regulations for community groups

What your group is allowed to do during Covid-19, Spring 2021

This information sheet was last updated on: 19th May 2021

Roadmap out of lockdown

The government is following a plan for reopening activities gradually, starting from 8th March 2021. The plan has 4 stages, and the rules about what is allowed and not allowed change at each stage. The government will announce if the next stage can go ahead, based on information they have about the risk of Covid.

Because the conditions of lockdown are subject to change, please check here for any updates.

We are currently at stage 3 of the plan, which began on 17th May. This means the following activities are now permitted:

  • After-school clubs for vulnerable children (indoors or outdoors)
  • Outdoor organised sports
  • Parents and children groups (up to 30, not counting children aged 5 and under), indoors or outdoors
  • After-school clubs for all children, outdoors
  • Community Centres allowed to open. There is specific government guidance for community facilities
  • Outdoors – gatherings up to 30 people
  • Indoors – gatherings up to 6 people (or 2 households)
  • Indoor adult group sports and exercise classes

COVID-Secure guidance remains in place for all activities.

The government is assessing the situation and will announce the timing of further relaxations. At the moment, these are planned to take place no earlier than 21st June.

Exemptions to Covid restrictions

Even where activities remain restricted, there are some specific exemptions, which mean your group may be able to organise larger group activities. The general rules for Covid-safe activities still apply.

The relevant exemptions are:

Voluntary or charitable services

Gatherings above the limit of 6 people or 2 households indoors, or above 30 people outdoors can take place for the purposes of providing voluntary or charitable services.

Providing care or assistance

Gatherings above the limit of 6 people or 2 households indoors can take place for the purposes of providing care or assistance, such as:

  • to go to a support group of up to 30 participants. The limit of 30 does not include children under 5 who are accompanying a parent or guardian
  • to provide care or assistance for disabled or vulnerable people, including shopping for essential items and accessing services on their behalf

You can also provide care or assistance for disabled or vulnerable people inside someone’s home, where necessary.

Support groups

Your community group is allowed to bring together up to 30 people to offer each other mutual aid, therapy, or any other form of support. These can be focused on any issue your members or community need support with, for example, support to victims of crime, people in drug and alcohol recovery, new parents and guardians, people with long-term illnesses, people facing issues relating to their sexuality or gender, and those who have suffered bereavement, and vulnerable young people.

You must follow the general rules and cannot meet in a private home. Where a support group includes someone covered by an exception (for example, someone who is working or volunteering), they are not counted as part of the gatherings limit. For example, you could have 30 people participating in a support group plus two volunteers running it.

Childcare, children’s activities and youth work

Your group can provide:

  • early years childcare
  • childcare that is reasonably necessary to enable parents to work
  • respite care
  • support groups for parents, children and young people. Children under 5 do not count towards the limit of 30 people.

Youth clubs should follow the comprehensive National Youth Association guidance.

Children under school age or people dependent on round-the-clock care

Children under school age and carers of people dependent on round-the-clock care are specifically exempted from the limits on numbers of people who can meet each other.


Gathering in a group above the limit of 6 people or 2 households indoors, or above 30 people outdoors is permitted for the purpose of COVID-secure protests or picketing where the organiser has taken the required precautions, including completing a risk assessment.

General rules for group activities

For every activity that your group organises, the group is responsible for ensuring:

1. Participants follow social distancing guidelines

This means that people who do not live together should:

  • keep 2 metres apart from one another;
  • avoid physical contact; and
  • avoid touching the same items or surfaces.

If people cannot stay 2 metres apart, they should stay 1 metre apart and wear face masks.

2. The activity follows ‘Covid-19 Secure’ guidelines

To make sure that the activity you are organising is as safe as possible, your group must:

  • Complete a Covid-19 risk assessment
  • Hold the activity in either a public outdoor space or an indoor venue that has ‘Covid-19 Secure’ measures in place
  • For sports activities, follow the Covid-19 guidance from the relevant national body for your sport. A list of national bodies for England can be found here.
  • Ensure everyone washes or sanitises their hands as soon as they arrive at the activity, and regularly throughout
  • Minimise people touching the same surfaces or items e.g. cups, chairs, pens
  • Plan the activity in a way that allows people to socially distance
  • Make sure there is good ventilation
  • Take part in NHS Test and Trace
  • Not allow anyone to come to the activity who has Covid-19 symptoms

Covid-19 Secure measures

Most community centres and venues that hire out rooms are now following ‘Covid-19 Secure’ guidelines, but always check before you book. To be ‘Covid-19 Secure’, the venue must: have a Covid-19 risk assessment; clean more often; ask visitors to socially distance and wear masks; increase ventilation; take part in NHS Test and Trace; turn away anyone with Covid-19 symptoms.

3. People do not mix with each other before, during or after the activity

It is the group’s legal responsibility to ensure that no one socialises with anyone outside their own household or support bubble in any breaks or at the beginning or end of the activity session.

Links to government guidance

Government guidance on what you can and cannot do:

Keeping volunteers safe:

Face coverings:

Social distancing:

Community buildings:

Covid-19 Secure guidelines:


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