As you will probably know, the Government has issued new Covid-19 measures which came into effect yesterday (14 September). The measures, under which social gatherings of more than six people will be illegal in England, can be found here and here. Similar measures apply in the other countries of the UK. Our understanding is that the measures will be enforceable in law. In particular, we note:
- Although there are some exceptions to the measures, none cover backgammon in any way;
- Backgammon is not recognised as a sport by Sport England, and so falls squarely within the definition of ‘social gatherings’ rather than ‘recreational sport’;
- 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” (where it is reasonable to take “avoid social interaction” to mean “avoid interaction that does not comply fully with social distancing guidelines”);
- Community facilities which are following COVID-19 secure guidelines can host more than six people in total, but only in respect of permitted activities – of which we are not part.
These measures are going to make it very difficult to organise any sort of live play for the foreseeable future, other than perhaps league matches where two individuals meet in suitably distanced circumstances, and even then we would emphasise that online play is a safer option.
The English Bridge Union and English Chess Federation have issued very similar guidance to their members.
Obviously, it is frustrating that we cannot envisage a return to live play, , in the foreseeable future. We recommend that club and tournament organisers keep a close eye on further Government announcements and also liaise closely with their venues, and we will update our advice here as appropriate. Furthermore, we reserve the right not to accept results into the ratings system if they have come from tournament-type events which would violate the above measures, until those measures are lifted.