The Ministry of Sports, culture and heritage has released guidelines for the resumption of Sports activities during the COVID-19 period but no definite date has been put in place on when the activities will resume.
The Kenya Rugby Union and other federations are required to give their take on the guideline within seven days before a definite date is set. According to the ministry’s guidelines, resumption of any sport and recreation activity will be preceded by a thorough interrogation of information shared, education of athletes, their support personnel and venue operators. The Federations will also be required to domesticate the guidelines given in line with their International Governing bodies and the Ministry of Health.
Each Federation is expected to have Safe return to training committee which to oversee the preparedness. The return to training is expected to happen in three phases with the first phase being dedicated to medical and athletic tests (3 to 4 days). Players could then resume training individually for seven days before training in small groups for a week and eventually, they would come the collective training.
Resumption of competitions will happen in six phases with the first Phase being Medical and Fitness Tests, Phase 2: Individual outdoor field-based or in-door gym conditioning, Phase 3: Team training, Phase 4: Domestic competition with no spectators, Phase 5: Cross border competitions with no spectators and Phase 6: No restrictions – spectators present.
This means spectators will not be allowed in venues unless all protocols have been achieved to level 6 of the guidelines for every sport discipline.
For Rugby which is a full-contact sport it has been categorized under high risk due to contact involved, the following are steps required for resumption:
- Step 1 Health tests, Physical Conditioning, Psycho-social training
- Step 2 Outdoor activities – groups of less than or equal to 6 people, Travel as guided by ministry of transport protocols, Maintain social distancing at all times, disinfect surfaces and equipment regularly between use by different participants/groups, Prevent congregations of people, No organised contact sport team training, Individuals arrive, train/ practice and leave, Avoid, running into each other, Indoor facilities closed with the exception of restricted access to small shared facilities e.g. storage area/toilet/ through ways. These are disinfected regularly with sanitation products
- Step 3 Team sport training allowed up to a maximum of 10 athletes/staff, Skill drills and tactical drills with no close contact – e.g. no tackling, wrestling, rucks, mauls, lineouts, scrums or contact sparring , Technical drills with e.g. bags, pads, paddles, shields Shadow sparring permitted, Indoor activities ≤ 4 people, in all cases, maintain social distancing – any contacts should be brief, Indoor facilities used must have public health measures in place, Prevent congregations of people indoors, Retain records of people attending
- Step 4 Outdoor activities – groups of ≤ 30 people, Team sport training allowed up to a maximum of 30 athletes / staff, Indoor activities possible with increased numbers up to a maximum of 30, Group size dependent on size of indoor space, In all cases, maintain social distancing as far as possible – any contacts should be brief
- Step 5: ii. Outdoor activities for larger numbers >30 where social distancing cannot be easily maintained and multiple short contacts likely, Indoor activities for larger numbers >30 – social distancing should be maintained, Any conditions on gatherings will apply e.g. size, Leisure Centres and indoor leisure facilities open – may initially be on restricted hours, Modified training in higher risk contact sports, Modifications (removal of close physical contact in a temporary capacity) may allow a form of competition to take place in some sports, Any competition to take place with restrictions in total numbers of people involved – athletes/coaches/staff / officials and spectators, Some events may take place ‘behind closed doors
- Step Six: Close physical contact sports resume full training and full competition (without modification), Return to full use of sporting facilities, Spectators able to attend live events on a restricted basis.
The Federations are required to disseminate information about COVID-19 as released by the Ministry of Health to Athletes, athlete support personnel, officials, staff and volunteers. All organizers and venue operators are required to appoint COVID-19 contact persons and response teams.
Other general guideline includes:
- The Clubs are to ensure the availability of handwashing facilities, sanitizers and thermometers at the training and competition sites.
- All venue operators should ensure safe environments, carry out regular cleaning and disinfection of venues, associated fixtures and equipment.
- Officials, the media personnel and all staff working in sports venues during events will all have to take the Covid-19 tests.
- No press conference will be allowed except for flash interviews for athletes. Such interviews will be conducted respecting the social distancing of 1.5 meters and more.
- There will be no handshakes, hugs to celebrate achievements during and after events with the exchange and sharing of uniforms also prohibited.
- Team event organizers should gather teams in one place prior to and until the end of the championship. The organizers will keep records and contact information of all the athletes and any other person for ease of contact tracing.
- Any suspected cases of COVID-19 to be processed in line with the guidelines provided by the Ministry of Health.
- There will be signage at every entrance and strategic locations to remind all persons of the COVID-19 measures; and Body temperature checks shall be conducted to all persons at the time of entry to the venue. Anyone with a body temperature reading above 37.5 will not be allowed into any sporting venue
- Ensure temporary, part-time or contract workers and athletes at the facility are properly trained in COVID-19 prevention policies and have necessary supplies and PPE
- Transportation of athletes and athlete support personnel shall follow guidelines by the Ministry of Transport and Infrastructure, however consideration for alternative methods that avoid use of pooled transport and public transport is highly recommended;
- Resumption of training – should be phased upon establishment of physical qualities. Initial individual training should be followed by a progressive and calibrated introduction of group trainings culminating to full team engagement for team sports;
- Set up of seating areas for athletes, athlete support personnel and officials- These shall be arranged in accordance with social distancing requirements, such areas will have been appropriately cleaned and disinfected before use
- Cleaning and disinfection of surfaces, objects and equipment shall be done in accordance with the Ministry of Health Guidelines for cleaning and disinfection;
- Health Checks, testing and screening – medical checks and testing should be done at least seventy-two hours before resumption and on the first day of training. Periodic tests must be carried out as guided by the Ministry of Health and respective International Sports Organizations; and
- Provision of medical services – It is recommended that properly equipped and manned ambulances be stationed at the venue.
Guidelines for handling equipment and materials
- Given that it is difficult to avoid touching one’s face, particularly in the context of physical and sports activities, it is recommended that shared objects and equipment be disinfected regularly.
- Each participant should use his or her own equipment as much as possible. If this is not possible, the equipment should be changed regularly during the activity and washed with hot water and soap or an effective disinfectant between activities (e.g. balls)
- If the players bring their own equipment (e.g. a ball), a person designated by the club must disinfect it before the players take it to the field.
- Hands do not frequently touch some objects, such as cones and hurdles, during the sports activity. People should be asked to wash their hands after handling them.
- The sharing of team equipment and uniforms is not permitted. Federation/Clubs to make arrangements for regular cleaning and disinfection of equipment and team uniforms;
- After the training session or match, kits should be removed and washed with regular laundry detergent