Scouting Guide to Coronavirus

Alert Icon Last Updated 5 August 2020

Scouts NSW Response to COVID-19

We each play an important role in adopting a calm approach to COVID-19, while being mindful of our actions to limit the effect on our own health, as well as the impact it has on those around us.

The following information is provided for Scouts NSW members and their families in relation to COVID-19 and its limitations on Scouting activities.  

As the Federal and NSW governments announce changes to public health orders, the Scouts NSW Coronavirus Task Force will meet to discuss the impact of the changes on the activities of Scouts NSW and update the information shown here.  Whenever the government announces a relaxation of restrictions, this does not mean that Scouts NSW can automatically relax its restrictions as there are a number of things to consider to ensure healthy and safe Scouting in a pandemic environment. 

The latest public health announcements can be monitored at NSW Health.

Current Advice for Scouts NSW

Scout Formations may now prepare and implement their COVID-19 Safe Plan to return to Scout Halls from 13 June.  Region Scout Camps should begin preparing and submitting their COVID-19 Safe Plan. Camps and overnight hikes can now resume. Please refer to the Questions and Answers below for more information.

Currently, as restrictions are gradually relaxed by the NSW Government, Scout Formations across NSW may run limited face-to-face activities.  The allowances listed below are subject to change – especially if the government announced new public health orders and begins to reinstate restrictions. Leaders should monitor the latest public health announcements in the lead up to holding activities.

Outdoor activities may be run in the Scout Hall ground or in a public place under certain conditions as outlined in the Self-Assessment Checklist for Formations Returning to Outdoor Activities. Group leaders should submit the checklist online here.

Indoor activities may be run in Scout Halls, Rover Dens and Training Rooms under certain conditions. Prior to resuming any activity in the Scout Hall, the Group Leader (or their delegate) must follow these steps:

  1. Download the COVID-19 SAFE PLAN for SCOUT HALLS GUIDANCE DOCUMENT and meet virtually to discuss with the section leaders. Once all matters are agreed, proceed to step 2.
  2. Group Leader (or their delegate) will submit a COVID-19 SAFE PLAN for SCOUT HALL and await approval from their Region Commissioner (or their delegate).
  3. Once you receive approval, you may resume activities in the Scout Hall although you will need to monitor for any future changes.
  4. Your approved COVID-19 SAFE PLAN for your SCOUT HALL will authorise you also to run day time outdoor activities as long as you run the activities within the applicable requirements for outdoors.

Region Activity Teams may hold day activities after developing a written COVID-19 Management plan and making the necessary modifications to mitigate risk. The template OCA Compiling a COVID-19 Management Plan may be used for documenting the plan. Other useful references for running safe activities are:

Campsites and Activity Centres and may accept overnight guests once they have met certain conditions and have the necessary approval for their COVID-19 Safety Plan. Region campsite or activity centre managers can contact their Region Commissioner to obtain a copy of the Guidelines for Campsites and Activity Centres to lodge their COVID-19 Safety Plan. We appreciate that not all camps and activities will re-open in the short term – so if groups are planning and overnight activity, they should liaise with the site manager to understand the anticipated date for re-opening and the booking policy. Leaders holding overnight group stays at Activity Centres or in tents should read the separate more detailed Q&A provided for holding overnight activities.

Meetings in the hall with adult members or parents: Modest gatherings can be held in the Scout Hall or outdoors with parents and/or other adults however all apply the conditions outlined in the COVD-19 SAFE plans apply. Notably:

  • 1 person per 4sqm – this includes youth so plan carefully before you extend the invitation
  • Don’t allow the number of attendees to exceed the hall capacity.
  • Parents should be stationary observers only – no interaction
  • No food service

Camping in tents can recommence under modified conditions such as the application of physical distancing requirements in tents, washing, sanitation and restrictions around the service of food. Leaders holding overnight group stays in tents should read the separate more detailed Q&A regarding holding overnight activities.

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Yes, hirers of our Scout Halls are now able to return, however managing the risks associated with COVID-19 and a COVID Safe plan will be key factor in managing hall hiring arrangements.

It is important to read the Guidelines for Hall Hires information pack here to understand and communicate the expectations for hirers.

Please contact your Hall Hire Officer for more information.

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  • Cleaning is to take place before and after every meeting to help prevent spread from one group of participants to another.
  • Handrail, switches, door knobs and other high use surfaces should be wiped clean with a detergent solution. Take care when cleaning on or around electrical equipment/fittings – isolate electrical equipment and turn off power source if possible before cleaning
  • Cleaning with detergent and water is usually sufficient for routine cleaning however when there has been a high volume of people touching the surface, follow up by disinfection using a dilute bleach solution or other hospital grade disinfectant. Note: Disinfectants require sufficient contact time to be effective at killing viruses. If no time is specified, the disinfectant should be left for ten minutes before removing. Ensure disinfectants are stored where no small children are likely to access them.
  • Floors, bathrooms and kitchens should also be cleaned frequently depending on use (at a minimum weekly).
  • Cleaning products should be stored safely in containers that are intended for the purpose and properly labelled.
  • Safety Data Sheets for Cleaning products should be displayed. Cleaners should follow manufacturer’s instructions when using the product e.g. wear gloves and wash hands after cleaning.
  • A cleaning sign-off sheet should be displayed to record cleaning completion and frequency.
  • If there are additional cleaning costs, consider how you will cover these and possibly share costs with hirers (more guidance will be provided separately about liaising with hirers about COVID-19 plans).
  • Cleaning and disinfection must also be undertaken after a person with a confirmed or suspected case of COVID-19. More information can be provided to you when you report the matter using the Scouts NSW WHS incident report form.
  • Safe Work Australia has issued a useful one page CHECKLIST: Cleaning and a printable pack on cleaning during COVID-19.

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Leaders, Rovers and other adults should travel in their own vehicles in preference to sharing.  Parents are encouraged to drive their own children to and from all activities.

Where sharing transportation is unavoidable, only proceed with willing and healthy people who are not in a vulnerable category. Be vigilant with hand-hygiene, food stops and physical distancing during the journey. Apply the requirements of travel in the Child Protection Procedure.

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The maximum capacity of 1 person per 4sqm rule apply to all properties. How people manage physical distancing within the area is a matter for constant vigilance.  In addition to the 1 person per 4sqm rule, any current public health order that limits the number of people to an activity applies. Check the NSW Health website and also the Q&A called “Is there a limit to the number of people we can have at an indoor or outdoor activity?” on this webpage.

  • It is recommended that youth keep a 1.5 m distance from one another.
  • Adults should always maintain required 1.5m distancing from both children and other adults.
  • No physical contact: this includes handshaking and hugging.
  • Singing around the campfire or in the Hall is on pause for the time being – singing is an excellent way to spread COVID-19.

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As of 23 July, under the public health orders, a maximum of 20 people are allowed to gather outside in a public place. Inside community halls, sessions can be run with a maximum of 20 participants (plus the instructor or facilitator and any assistants) and up to the maximum allowed under the 4psm rule. Therefore, Scouts NSW provides the following guidance for Leaders.

Outdoor Scouting activities may be run with no more than 20 participants (adults and youth inclusive).   Scout Groups shall apply this rule when outdoors in public places, as well as the yard of the Scout Hall.

Where there are more than 20 members, the Leader will need to split the group into smaller groups i.e.patrols to run their activities.  The activities must be entirely physically separate for the duration of the session.  This helps limit the number of people at risk of exposure.

Individuals from one smaller group or Patrol should be instructed to not mingle with individuals from the other small group or Patrol for the entire session.  Leaders should select members of patrols with this in mind to help prevent mingling. There must be enough Leaders and other adults to provide adequate supervision. Similarly, where  the activity involves equipment, the equipment must not be shared from one group or Patrol to another.

Indoor Scouting activities should be run with no more than 20 participants (plus the adults necessary to run the session), up to the maximum allowed in the hall as per the COVID-19 Safety plan.

For example:  Your hall allows 16 people under the 4psm rule, you may only have 16 people in total (adults and youth inclusive).

For Example: Your Hall allows for 25 people under the 4psm rule, you may have up to a total of 20 participants and then a up to a maximum of 5 other adults/Leaders who are assisting with the delivery of the program/activity.

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Parents are kindly asked to remain in their cars at pick up or drop off time if possible. If you need to walk up to the hall with your child or wait for them, please do not enter the building. Instead, wait outside and remember to practice physical distancing from others. Parents are also encouraged to drive their own children to and from all activities if practical to do so.

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Food service is discouraged at Scout Halls and offices. If possible, attendees are to bring their own food and no sharing. No self-serve buffet-style or communal condiments. If sharing food, assign one person to serve, using dedicated and clean utensils.

Where food such birthday cake is provided, consider cupcakes in preference to larger cakes that require cutting.  No blowing out of candles on the cake, and one person is responsible for cutting and serving it out. Disposable plates, serviettes and cutlery should be used in consideration of the environment. Where reusable cutlery and kitchenware is used, it must be washed out using detergent solution, dried and put way freshly for next use.

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Yes – the Scouts NSW Coronavirus Plans and guidance material cover all the items on NSW Health’s template for COVID-19 Safety Plan – Community centres and halls. Councils and other property owners might ask for a copy of the group’s plan. Group Leaders may request a prepopulated NSW Health COVID-19 Safety Plan – Community centres and halls, through the Contact Form on this web page. This prepopulated template will only be provided to Scout Groups that already have an approved COVID-19 SAFETY PLAN FOR SCOUT HALL.

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Bunnings has developed a detailed guide for running sausage sizzles safely for volunteers and customers during the pandemic. Groups may run sausage sizzles at Bunnings if they are invited to do so and once their representative successfully completes the required training. Each person on the BBQ team must follow their assigned responsibilities on the day as per the Bunnings guide. The insurance certificate remains the same and the generic risk assessment can be found here.

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The risk of exposure is higher when people share tents or indoor overnight accommodation, as well as when they come together to eat and participate in activities.  Leaders need to consider certain aspects to facilitate a safe environment.  For peak awards, see also the separate Q&A.

Leaders should apply the following points as they relate to their planned event – tent-camping or indoor accommodation at Scouts or other public properties.


  • All Scouting activities must be conducted under the requirements of the current public health orders in place at the time
  • Public health orders can change rapidly so leaders should monitor media reports, the NSW Health website and Scouts NSW information in the lead up to the event. Be willing to cancel or modify your activity if needed.

Entry and Exit to the Site

  • See the information provided in a separate Q&A regarding transport.
  • Consider staggered arrival and/or departure times for you group to avoid crowding.
  • If present, avoid using shared pens to sign in.
  • Cashless payments only.
  • If an evacuation is necessary during your stay, try to maintain physical distancing at the assembly point.

Activities at Camps

  • No singing around the campfire for the time being – this is an effective way to spread COVID-19!
  • No physical contact including handshaking and hugging. This includes youth.
  • Try to limit the sharing of equipment. Where equipment is shared, consider how the group will maintain hygiene. Refer to the separate Q&A about region activities.
  • Ensure hand sanitiser is available, even outdoors.
  • Avoid situations where people are required to stand near people who are seated.
  • Consult with the site manager or local emergency services or council to determine if there are any travel restrictions to remote or vulnerable communities in the area that you will need to avoid.

Accommodation (indoors)

  • Posters will inform guests of the maximum number of people allowed in each room and guests are expected to manage 1.5m physical distancing during their stay.
  • Only one guest per double bunk is recommended including youth.
  • Guests should keep to their assigned bed each night of their stay.
  • Your campsite or Activity Centre coordinator will confirm whether hand-sanitiser and cleaning products are supplied. If in doubt, guests should take your own.
  • In general, guests are responsible for cleaning frequently touched surfaces during their stay.
  • If your group is responsible for cleaning the amenities, refer to the information about cleaning provided separately.
  • Stagger your dining times if necessary to reduce group numbers, implement practical physical distancing and cleaning between dining sessions.

Accommodation (in tents)

  • Single person tents are preferred.
  • For larger tents, apply the 1 person per 4sqm rule (except for people from the same household).
  • If your group utilises more tents than usual, evaluate and manage the logistics associated with this e.g. how the tents will be supplied and transported.
  • If there are more tents than usual, manage hazards associated with the potential for tents to ‘sprawl’ out where they normally would not be e.g. close to roadways, creeks etc.

Food Preparation (apply the following points as relevant to your site and situation)

  • Ideally, a person with a Food Handling Certificate will be present.
  • Ideally, attendees will bring, prepare and clean up after their own food.  However where this is not practical, it is essential to make changes to the way that food is served.
  • Select low(er) risk menu options (i.e. those requiring less direct food handling/contact)
  • No self-service buffet style food, no communal dishes or condiments.
  • Implement distancing and hygiene measures including hand sanitiser, gloves and facemasks for kitchen volunteers and consider the use of protective physical barriers/shields. Take care that any modifications you make (such as installing barriers or placing a ‘spacer’ table between diners and volunteers) do not create new hazards eg fire or trip hazards.
  • When offering buffet style, do not allow your diners to handle serving utensils. Use dedicated people to be ‘servers’. Servers should not swap serving utensils – one server, one utensil.
  • When diners bring their own plate to the buffet, volunteers servers should not handle the diners’ plates.
  • Do not allow self-service from the large drinks containers or jugs. Instead, use a dedicated server for the drinks container or jugs. Servers must be careful not to allow the lip of the cups and glasses to make contact with the tap or jug.
  • Prohibit the use of shared drink/water bottles
  • Implement queuing requirements to maintain physical distancing.
  • Implement practical physical distancing and cleaning between dining sessions.
  • Prohibit the use of shared drink/water bottles
  • If water fountains are being be used, ensure users are aware of appropriate usage protocols.
  • Table setting should try to observe 1.5 m physical distancing
  • Diners to keep seated as much as possible – discourage people standing around talking to diners who are seated.

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Locations with outbreaks will not be communicated on the Scouts NSW website because they emerge rapidly. Leaders need to monitor official media sources or NSW Health for information and if they find they are in, or nearby, an outbreak, decide whether to conduct planned Scouting activities based on the information at hand.  Group Leaders and Section Leaders may make this decision in consultation with their District or Region leadership. Region Commissioners with groups that border another Scouting Region with an outbreak may need to consult with their neighbouring Region Commissioner. People who are in a vulnerable category should not attend Scouting activities in a location where there is an outbreak.

NSW Health Statistics on locally acquired COVID-19 cases can be viewed here.

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The COVIDSafe app speeds up contacting people exposed to coronavirus (COVID-19). This helps protect Australians by alerting those who have been in close contact with a known case. Whilst the app may have benefits, having the app is not mandated and is a personal decision. You can find out more about the app here.

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For those Youth Members currently undertaking their final steps towards achieving their Peak Award, COVID-19 poses some significant challenges. We know how much time, energy and dedication our youth members have committed to the completion of their Peak Awards.

Below are outlines of the modifications to be made to ensure no Youth Member is disadvantaged in completing their Peak Award, whilst we adhere to Federal, State or Territory Government social distancing policies.

  • Current modifications remain in place until the September/October School Holidays
  • Pre-modification processes can begin now with some additional common sense adaptations.
  • When completing Leadership Activities, 4 sqm requirements must be managed for gatherings etc.
  • Members from any current HOT SPOTS should NOT commence pre-modification processes and remain under the ‘COVID Modifications Documents’

Overnight hikes

  • Single Tent per person – Journey Party should carry minimum 2 tents.  Adult Supervising Party should arrive at overnight areas with additional tents.
  • No sharing of food.
  • Adequate washing and sanitisation items carried and replenished each night.
  • Physical distancing to occur where safe during the journey.

When youth members are sick, or have been unwell in the past 14 days, they should not participate in the journey. 

  • No youth should be disadvantaged because of this and common sense approaches in-light of COVID Modifications should take place.

Modifications to the Peak Award Requirements for each Section: 


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Groups are encouraged to submit their questions to the COVID-19 task force via the contact form on this page. Alternatively, if you have a question regarding a specific Region event, please contact your Region representative.

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Contact Form

Do you have a specific question? Fill in the form below, or email Please allow two business days for our team to come back to you with a response.