‘Rule of 6’ exemption for disabled participants

25th September 2020 – Sport England update

The government has made the decision that those aged 18 and over will need to adhere to the ‘rule of 6’ if they are playing indoor team sports.

The government stated that there is an exemption for disabled participants.

The exemption is to help disabled people stay active. As we know, not allowing indoor sport would have a disproportionate impact on disabled people, as a significant proportion of team sport for disabled people takes place in indoor settings. We know that disabled people face more barriers to participating in sport and physical activity, so it is vital we do as much as possible to keep these opportunities accessible.

However, we must ensure that this is done safely. We know that a large proportion of disabled people are more likely to feel worried and anxious about returning to sport and physical activity in the risk of contracting coronavirus.

DCMS and Sport England will work with NGBs who provide indoor team sport to ensure that their current guidance reflects the ‘rule of 6’ restrictions or is updated, if needed, to set out how more than 6 disabled people can participate in team sport in a safe way which encourages social distancing.

Please see updated FAQ below for any additional questions you may have.

If you would like additional support in updating your guidance to reflect the exemption please contact Sport England return to play inbox (returntoplay@sportengland.org)

Updated FAQ

Why are disabled people exempt from the restrictions around indoor team sports for adults?

The exemption is to help disabled people to stay active. Not allowing indoor sport would have a disproportionate impact on disabled people, as a significant proportion of team sport for disabled people takes place in indoor settings. We know that disabled people face more barriers to participating in sport and physical activity, so it is vital we do as much as possible to keep these opportunities accessible. 

Does this exemption put disabled people at an increased risk of contracting COVID-19?

Indoor team sport provision can only take place where it follows the government’s guidance on recreational team sport and grassroots sport and leisure activity, and this includes team sports for disabled people. NGBs which provide sport formats for disabled people will set out how they can deliver this provision in line with existing guidance on social distancing and Covid-secure measures. The exemption only affects the number of people who can be involved in the sport where this is necessary for the sport to take place. 

How can participants be reassured that an indoor team sport activity for more than 6 disabled people will be delivered in a socially distanced Covid-19 secure environment?

All sport providers and venue operators are already operating in line with the government’s guidance on recreational team sport and grassroots sport and leisure activity. DCMS and Sport England will work with National Governing Bodies which provide indoor team sport to ensure that their current guidance reflects the ‘rule of 6’ restrictions or is updated, if needed, to set out that more than 6 disabled people can participate in team sport in a safe way which encourages social distancing.

Can non-disabled people take part in indoor team sports alongside disabled people?  

The exemption only applies to disabled people. If non-disabled people take part in indoor team sport, this exemption no longer applies. Indoor team sports which include non-disabled people participating alongside disabled people should only take place in groups of up to six people.

Where disabled people need support from a carer or personal assistant during activity, will this be allowed?

Yes. People who provide essential support (e.g. carers) to disabled people are exempt, and do not count towards the six people in a group (where the rule of six applies). Other people present are unlikely to be exempt, and should follow the guidance for spectators. Spectators are only permitted in groups of up to six, and social distancing must be maintained.  

Source: Sport England