UPDATE (16th March): In the light of government instruction to avoid all unnecessary social contact, we have to recommend the suspension of face to face play at all levels. We understand it is deeply frustrating but the health of all must come first. Please keep an eye on Twitter or Facebook where we will post updates as soon as we have them.
UPDATE (15th March): The West Yorkshire Open, Manchester One Day and Nordic Open have all been cancelled/postponed. It is very likely that others will be too.
This is probably the post I least wanted to write, but with the UK likely to escalate actions to slow the spread of the coronavirus that causes COVID-19, we as a community have a duty of care to each other and need to play our part in looking after ourselves, our friends and colleagues. You may believe that you are fit and healthy and at low risk, but the same may not be true of your opponents, your organisers, venue staff, and their families and friends. Moreover, we don’t know who has the virus, and symptoms can take a couple of weeks to emerge, so you could find yourself sat opposite someone who is unaware they have it.
There are a range of face-to-face backgammon activities, which vary considerably in scale:
- The events on the UKBGF Tour,
- Other regular tournaments, such as the London and Manchester monthly ones,
- Regular club nights,
- League matches,
- Ad hoc backgammon matches/meet ups
Should I take precautions?
Yes. The following is general advice for everyone:
- If you are, or have recently been, unwell with any signs associated with COVID-19, please do not attend any of the above events.
- If you have recently travelled to areas that are considered high-risk, please do not attend.
- If you are elderly, or particularly unfit, or have another health condition or concern, any of which would make COVID-19 a higher risk to you personally, please consider not attending, bearing in mind the size of the event – your health is more important than backgammon, and the more people present the more problematic it may be.
- Make sure you are aware of current reputable official advice as it may change on a day to day basis. Beware of unofficial advice as there is plenty of misinformation flowing around the internet.
Suggested specific precautions for event attendees:
- Keep the organiser informed as to whether you will be coming or not. This enables them to plan more accurately.
- Be aware that despite best efforts, events may be cancelled at short notice. Please be understanding of organisers – they are doing their best at a difficult time.
- Follow all general official advice around using hand sanitisers, soap, disposable tissues etc.
- Keep playing areas as tidy as reasonably possible, and ensure your rubbish is taken to waste bins. Don’t expect others to handle your rubbish.
- Use disposable wipes to wipe down tables and boards etc. especially if the latter have been coughed or sneezed on.
- Keep your board closed when not in use.
- Wash your hands thoroughly between each match.
- Consider taking league matches online.
- Don’t insist on a handshake before or after a game.
Suggested specific precautions for event organisers:
- Stay in touch with players prior to the event and allow them to withdraw if they are concerned.
- Clearly make the point that no one who is unwell should attend and they can have their money back if needed. Deny any players who are obviously unwell access to the venue.
- Pay as little as you can to your venues etc. up front, in case of cancellation or lower numbers than expected.
- Ensure that your venue has been cleaned sufficiently and has appropriate and clean toilet facilities.
- Have hand sanitiser available at all venues (as appropriate for the expected numbers)
- Have boxes of tissues and enough bins / waste paper baskets for disposal
- Have disposable wipes available to wipe down tables and boards etc.
- Insist that all players wash hands between each match. Attendees should have the right to refuse to play if their opponent has not washed their hands.
- Wash your hands thoroughly after handling cash, and ideally handle money electronically.
We do not recommend that events be cancelled. However, if in future the government advises or orders the cancellation of events greater than a certain size, then we will recommend following that advice.
And finally – the quicker our health services can get on top of this challenge, the quicker we can return to normality and enjoy the game we all love. Let’s all do our bit.