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Outdoor play and Covid

Free outdoor play near home is vital for children’s health and wellbeing, especially when life is more indoors, isolated and restricted.

For children, outdoor play is:

  • Fun! Children play out because they enjoy it.
  • Exercise. Outdoor play is essential for children’s physical activity, especially when other opportunities are limited.
  • Cost-free and open to all. All that is needed is easy access to safe space near home.
  • Social. Play is the main way children connect and make friends.
  • A way to let off steam and process difficult experiences.

Read more about the importance of free outdoor play for children here.

What are the rules around playing outside?

There are currently no restrictions on children playing outside. For the most up to date government guidance, please click the links below:




Girl chalking on street

Northern Ireland

Our views on restrictions on outdoor play

We try to keep abreast of new research around Covid-19 and children so our views may change as more evidence emerges.

Our general view is that any lockdown rules should allow children under 12 to play outside together in some way, as was the case in Scotland, as it’s low-risk and essential for their wellbeing. Scientific evidence to date largely shows that Covid spreads far less outside. See our list of other important reasons why children under 12 need to be specifically considered.

Games for socially distanced outdoor play

Children are now allowed to play out together again, but during the height of the pandemic informal play in our streets, estates and parks needed a bit more managing. We started a list of games and activities that lend themselves to distanced play, without needing to impose too much structure.

The importance of being community minded

Whatever we are doing outside, it’s important, as always, to listen to any concerns neighbours may have, especially where people may be shielding or vulnerable. We must also all be conscious of our fair use of outside space (adults too) so that everyone can feel safe outside.

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