New HM Government Guidelines September 2020

As you will know, HM Government has  issued new Covid-19 measures which come into effect on Monday 14 September. The measures, under which social gatherings of more than six people will be illegal in England, can be found here – https://www.gov.uk/government/news/coronavirus-covid-19-what-has-changed-9-september and here – https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/coronavirus-covid-19-meeting-with-others-safely-social-distancing/coronavirus-covid-19-meeting-with-others-safely-social-distancing. Our understanding is that the measures will be enforceable in law.

It is the ECF’s view that the new measures are going to make it very difficult, if not impossible, for chess clubs, leagues, congresses and other bodies to organise over the board chess events for the following reasons in particular –

  1. Although there are some exceptions to the measures, none seem to cover the situation of chess clubs, leagues, congresses and other bodies
  2. Chess is not recognised as a sport by Sport England, and so in the ECF’s view falls within the definition of ‘social gatherings’ rather than within HM Government’s ‘Return to recreational team sport framework’ document here – https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/coronavirus-covid-19-guidance-on-phased-return-of-sport-and-recreation/return-to-recreational-team-sport-framework
  3. The measures make it clear that if you are in a group of up to six people ‘ you should … avoid social interaction with anyone outside the group you are with, even if you see other people you know’ (we take ‘avoid social interaction’ to mean ‘avoid interaction that does not comply fully with social distancing guidelines’)
  4. Community facilities following COVID-19 secure guidelines can host more than six people in total, but only in respect of permitted activities – https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/covid-19-guidance-for-the-safe-use-of-multi-purpose-community-facilities/covid-19-guidance-for-the-safe-use-of-multi-purpose-community-facilities

The English Bridge Union has reached a very similar conclusion to the ECF’s; their message to the bridge community can be found here – https://www.ebu.co.uk/

As before, the ECF cannot offer specific advice, and organisers need to make their own decisions in the light of the information above. We again recommend that organisers keep a close eye on further HM Government announcements and also liaise closely with their venues. We will update the information above as and when the situation changes. Completing full risk assessments remains as important as ever; the ECF’s risk assessment document can be found here – https://www.englishchess.org.uk/wp-content/uploads/2020/07/OTB-Chess-Risk-Assessment-v4.pdf