12th April – EBF Return to Play guidelines

English Bowling Federation (EBF) – Return to Play (RTP) Guidance

As per the announced government roadmap for the easing of lockdown restrictions organised outdoor sport can re-commence from Monday 29th March 2021 providing the affiliated Counties, Clubs and members follow this guidance to return to play safely.

This RTP guidance should be used in conjunction with the latest government guidance and may change to reflect any changes made by the UK government.

This guidance is effective from midnight, Monday 12th April 2021 and replaced all other guidance issued by the EBF.

This guidance falls under the classification of organised sport in accordance with the issued Department for Culture, Media, and Sport (DCMS) guidance and covers:

  • National Competitions & Championships (including qualifying stages)
  • All matches, competitions and leagues involving affiliated Club and Counties
  • Inter affiliated club matches
  • Internal affiliated club events or organised sessions for club members
  • Coaching by an approved coach
  • Education courses (outdoor) working to a prescribed syllabus
  • Matches between affiliated Counties

For the avoidance of doubt any activity that is not listed above falls outside of the scope of the organised sport category and falls into the informal activity category where different rules apply. This includes casual play such as ‘roll-ups’. 

The government have given an exemption for organised sport regarding the numbers of people that can mix and the relevant organising body (club, county, league or governing body) must consider the risks and set out ways to mitigate them so people can participate safely in accordance with this guidance. Informal or self-organised sport is not covered by any exemptions.

From Monday 12th April the following applies:

If activity applies within Organised Sport category above:

  • Singles. The use of marker is permitted.
  • Pairs 
  • Triples*
  • Fours*

Any combination of formats may be played under the ‘organised sport’ exemption. Players must follow social gathering limits before and after the activity.

The maximum number of participants on a six-rink outdoor green for ‘organised’ or informal activity at any one time should not exceed 24. Clubs with less or additional rink capacity may amend figures accordingly (average four people per rink) so long as they deem it to be safe.

Social interaction before and after play should only take place in separate and distinct groups consisting of up to six people or two households.

If activity falls with the Informal Activity category, and will need to follow the guidance on outdoor legal gathering limits as this is considered to be informal or self-organised sport. This includes any casual play (for example ‘roll-ups’) and any activity involving clubs, leagues or associations not affiliated to the English Bowling Federation.

You should use your own equipment and only you should handle your equipment. Where shared items such as jacks and mats are used you should sanitise your hands prior and after touching the equipment. Scorecards should be retained by one person during a game. 

Any other equipment should be used by one person only during a game where possible. If this is not possible hands should be sanitised prior to and after using the equipment.

Hygiene & Health
Everyone should sanitise their hands before and after the game and at regular intervals during the game. Handshakes are not permitted at any time.

If you or anyone living in the same household as you are showing any COVID-19 symptoms, or you or any of your household are self-isolating, you should stay at home and not play bowls until you are permitted to leave you house under the current quarantine guidance issued by the government.

Track and Trace
All clubs are required to keep records of who has played each day and with whom for a period of 21 days to support NHS Track and Trace. It is recommended that the club display an NHS QR code so that participants can scan using a mobile device. (What if people don’t have smart phones and should it be mentioned here about booking systems?)

Changing, Toilets, Clubhouse’s
Changing rooms can be opened, but participants should be encouraged to avoid or minimise use where possible. Participants should socially distance whilst in changing rooms. Subject to available space, more than one household can use changing facilities at one time but they must not mix and must adhere to capacity limits set by the club.

Cleaning protocols should be put in place to limit COVID-19 transmission in public places. Touch points (e.g. handrails and gates) should be particular areas of focus for increased cleaning.

Outdoor hospitality can open in accordance with the government guidance on hospitality settings

Spectators are not permitted in any outdoor bowls club, except on public land. When on public land, spectators should adhere to gathering limits in groups of six, or two households. Public land includes:

    • parks, beaches, countryside accessible to the public, forests
    • public gardens (whether or not you pay to enter them)
    • the grounds of a heritage site
    • playgrounds

This restriction on spectators doesn’t apply for people with disabilities, or adults needed to supervise under-18s in a safeguarding role. Where it’s necessary for them to be present, supervising adults shouldn’t mix with others from outside their household or support bubble.

Travel should be minimised but can take place for the purpose of sport and physical activity. Car sharing, however, isn’t permitted.

You do not need to be vaccinated to particate in bowls and clubs should not ban stop anyone who has not been vaccinated from playing.

Risk Assessments
All clubs should carry out a risk assessment prior to retuning to play. It is advised that clubs have a session booking system and include suitable gaps between each session to ensure maximum group limits aren’t exceeded.

This guidance will be updated at each stage of the Roadmap to reflect changes as approved by the government.