Chess clubs and Covid-19 – August 2020

To read the risk assessment document click here

To read more about social distancing guidelines –

From 25 July, HM Government announced that sports facilities and venues, including indoor gyms, fitness and dance studios, indoor swimming pools and indoor water parks, can open. Further to this easing of restrictions, it was also announced that from the 1st August (subject to the rates of transmission at the time):

1) bowling alleys, skating rinks and casinos can open;
2) conference and exhibition centres will be able to reopen in order to enable pilots for business events to take place;
3) small wedding receptions – sit-down meals for no more than 30 people – can take place, subject to COVID-19 Secure guidance.

However, in response to warning signs that the virus may be growing again, further guidance was issued on 31 July, full details of which are here – – but include —

1) Restrictions to social contact in Greater Manchester, East Lancashire, parts of West Yorkshire
2) Extending the list of areas where face coverings are mandatory from 8 August
3) Delaying the changes that had been proposed in the roadmap for 1 August until at least 15 August

This means remaining leisure settings, such as bowling, skating rinks and casinos, will remain closed; indoor performances will not be permitted; restrictions will remain on the highest risk close contact services, such as treatments on the face including eyebrow threading or make-up application

Whilst this further guidance is not necessarily applicable to all the types of premises that chess clubs use, the advice gives a good idea of what is generally expected. Compliance with the guidance is likely to be onerous, and as before the ECF advises all chess clubs that are considering re-opening to read the advice carefully and consider whether they are in a position to comply with it. Ability to comply with the guidance may (or may not) have a significant effect on clubs’ ability to start up again depending the nature of the premises they use.

If clubs are thinking about re-opening, the ECF once again strongly recommends that they should first do a risk assessment [linked above]. Going through this document methodically should highlight the various things that need to be considered in preparation for re-opening when the time is right.

In summary, in the ECF’s opinion continues to be that the issue remains less when chess clubs can re-open and more when and in what way the premises they use can re-open, and whether, given the nature of their premises, chess clubs consider that they are able to comply with HM Government’s guidance if they are minded to re-open. Given the nature of the HM Government guidance, and because each club’s circumstances are different, the ECF is unable to provide general advice, and each club needs to make its own decision in the light of the information above. As we said in our earlier communication of 3 July, in these uncertain and rapidly-changing times clubs need to keep a close eye on further HM Government announcements and also liaise closely with their venues.