Covid Spring Response Pathway

Scope of the Guidance

On 22nd February the UK Government published the ‘COVID-19 Response – Spring 2021’ which provides a roadmap for England to move out of the current lockdown. Further details can be found here –

This note summarises implications for organised chess events at each step in the government response with reference to relevant points within the HMG guidance. Please note the dates indicated for the steps by HMG are earliest dates and are subject to ongoing review and the four tests for each step quoted in the HMG guidance.

Organisers should always review whether a proposed event is safe to run based on Government restrictions in force at the time and their own local circumstances. They must take responsibility for any event they decide to put on, with suitable risk assessments, mitigation arrangements and precautions.

Current Lockdown Arrangements  (February 2021) – play chess at home (online or within a household)

  • Chess activity is limited to –
    • Online chess matches via internet provider platforms and clubs/ teams at regional, national and international level
    • Online learning and coaching
    • Over the board (OTB) games at home only and limited to members of household or support bubble
  • No chess activity in clubs/leagues
  • No outdoor chess
  • No face to face private coaching

Step 1 – No earlier than 8th March – play chess at home continues

Schools and colleges are open. Two people can meet outdoors.

Limited school coaching / clubs may be possible subject to school or college arrangements, any testing requirements, and bubble restrictions in force at the school or college.

This step is not expected to change the current restrictions for organised chess which will essentially be limited to online chess at home or OTB within a household as with the current lockdown.

Step 1 (limited further changes) – No earlier than 29th March – play chess at home continues with limited outdoor chess

Step 1 (limited further changes) will allow for rule of 6 or two households outdoors (no indoor gatherings) together with outdoor parent and child groups (up to 15 attendees with children under 5 not counting towards the limit) and outdoor sporting activities.

Some level of limited outdoor chess may be possible within the outdoor rule of 6, or 15 attendee maximum outdoor parent and child bubbles, with suitable hygiene and social distancing arrangements. Chess is not however classified as a sport and general outdoor chess activities would not be allowed.

Step 2 – No earlier than 12th April – play chess at home plus limited junior chess indoors

Step 2 will allow for limited indoor junior chess events for U18s  in bubbles of up to 15 maximum with suitable entry controls, hygiene and social distancing. This will mean that very small scale junior events may be possible within those restrictions.  HMG guidance indicates there can be no intermingling between bubbles.

Step 3 – No earlier than 17th May – limited club/ local activity resumes

Step 3 allows for 6 people maximum or two households gathering indoors together with a limited set of controlled large events including conferences, theatre or concert performances and sports events – all at 50% venue capacity or under 1,000 attendees. Current understanding is that chess events will not be permitted by the HMG regulations as they will not be classified as sports events or fall within the classes of events listed as qualifying examples.

This means that permitted activity under the regulations would include the following local activities with restrictions and protocols in place including:  entry control, testing/ reporting where applicable, hygiene, social distancing and space availability and management.

  • Club activity/ events based on rule of six restrictions where appropriate facilities and processes are in place so that the events can be organised safely
  • Small intra-club events within allowed rule of six bubbles/ pods
  • Limited hybrid events (ie local gatherings with remote connection to other groups) with small groups of six competing remotely
  • Play outside in parks etc may be possible with restrictions in place
  • One to one coaching adults indoors may be possible again

General OTB Congress events would not be permitted by the regulations at this stage except for smaller events, where segregation of groups of 6 can be ensured.

Step 4 – No earlier than 19th July – start of more general opening up (please note revised earliest date of 19th July 2021 for Step 4 following the HMG announcement)

Step 4 includes a more general opening subject to further review and regulations in force at the time.

We envisage that chess events will open up in a number of phases within Step 4, which is likely to be subject to continuing restrictions based on the current HMG Guidance. 

The ECF’s view is that organisers should consider the scale and level of risk when restarting events  – eg local club and league events and competitions might come first, then regional and national events, and then international events.

We are planning to publicise further information including examples of good practice in managing Covid risk during the restart to help support the general return to play in over the board events.