Managing youth sector activities and spaces during COVID-19

The National Youth Agency (NYA) as the Professional Statutory and Regulatory Body for youth work in England has, in consultation with Public Health England and the Health and Safety Executive, developed youth sector specific advice and guidance. The guidance will support local providers, leaders, volunteers and young people to remain safe when engaging in youth sector activities. It is intended to guide the youth sector in opening up services for young people at the right pace and time.

This guidance must be used in conjunction with the readiness framework and your existing safeguarding policies and procedures. It is complementary to government guidance on social distancing, travel and other measures which must be adhered to.

Roadmap Step 2 from 12th April 2021 (in England)

From Step 2 the Readiness Level is AMBER.

All young people will be able to attend indoor or outdoor activities. However, the law applies differently for provision for young people under and over 18yrs of age. This applies if the young persons 18th birthday fell before the 31st August 2020.

Youth provision for under 18’s may meet indoors or outdoors without limitations on group size. The regulations no longer require youth sector providers to limit their bubble sizes to a maximum number of attendees (per bubble). However, the NYA recommends that providers review their Action Plans and Risk Assessments and take steps to reduce the risk of community transmission. For example, consider how to manage groups of young people to a manageable number to minimise the risk of transmission. All standard COVID Secure measures (social distancing, hygiene and face coverings etc) will continue to be required.

Youth provision for over 18’s may meet indoors or outdoors in ‘Support Groups’ for vulnerable young people in groups of 15 (plus staff, volunteers, and carers). Outdoor provision when not part of a support group (detached or adhoc delivery) must comply with the rule of six (including workers/volunteers). Support groups must be by invitation only and places offered to vulnerable young people (locally defined as vulnerable).

Online/digital, detached/outdoor and 1-2-1 youth sector provision will remain available to all young people.

Trips and visits will be permitted, but overnight and residential experiences will remain prohibited (under review). Presently trips should remain local and able to be completed the same day. Travel by minibus, taxi, public transport, or private car (subject to safeguarding) are permitted. When travelling organisers risk assessments should include the use of face coverings (for over 11’s where appropriate), social distancing measures where practical and good hygiene measures. Consider if a trip is necessary or if the same outcome can be achieved without the trip taking place. The youth sector’s goal at all times should be to minimise the risk of COVID-19 transmission.

NB: If visiting a third parties’ venue, your group will need to fully comply with their COVID-19 measures as well as this youth sector guidance. Some providers may require the use of bubbles and/or smaller group sizes etc to operate safely. International travel remains prohibited, but under review.

If you feel your local situation cannot be managed in a safe way, you should not re-open until you have put sufficient measures in place. This is essential for avoiding unnecessary risks to your staff, young people and the community.

Guidance Document

Everyone should read the guidance document below and follow the recommended actions and requirements. This guidance is intended for use in England (Version 5.2). Click on the image below to view the guidance documents.

Additional tools and resources to support this guidance can be found here

National associations for specific types of organisations (uniformed, etc.) and activities may have additional advice and guidance to safeguard young people and in related areas of sports, culture and the arts, which are included in or make use of facilities for youth activities. The NYA is grateful to members of a ministerial task-force who supported the development of this guidance and approved of its release. Our thanks to:

  • Minister for Civil Society
  • Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport (Youth and Loneliness Team)
  • Department for Education
  • Duke of Edinburgh
  • Girl Guides
  • Local Government Association
  • Onside
  • Princes Trust
  • Regional Youth Work Unit’s Network
  • Scouts
  • UK Youth
  • Unison
  • Unite the Union
  • Youth United Foundation members

If you have any feedback for us, please email

Please read our legal statement on the above guidance