Planning for Face-to-Face Bridge in 2021

As we continue along the government’s roadmap for easing out of lockdown, bridge players will be excited about when they can get back to bridge across the table, and clubs are asking when they can open and what they need to do to be compliant.

Although we cannot answer the first question, about when clubs can open, since individual clubs make their own decisions about this as in other matters, we can help by providing information to assist them make those decisions for themselves.

Until we know what precautions will still be required after June 21st, it is difficult to make firm recommendations on how best to prepare. What we can try to do now is produce a list of things to consider, which can be whittled away at, either by them becoming unnecessary, or by clubs having complied.

Core to any re-opening is the preparation of a Risk Assessment (our current PDF and Word templates are available). If a club is in shared premises, there might be a Risk Assessment for the premises which could be used as a starting point. Alternatively, discussions may be required with the owner/manager of hired premises.

In planning for a re-opening, all of the following questions will need to be considered:

Prior to arrival at the club

  • Is the use of Test and Trace feasible?
  • Consider asking players to take a test prior to leaving home or supply testing kits at the club for use on entry

Note – test kits for those with no Coronavirus symptoms (lateral flow) are provided by the Government for free and can be obtained from a pharmacy, a local test site, by post or can be ordered from

  • Should players take a temperature check before being admitted to the building?
  • Should you only permit players who have been vaccinated?
  • Can you stagger arrivals/ departures to avoid bottlenecks in entrance ways?

Preparing the playing room:

  • Limit the number of tables in the room to ensure there is legal spacing between tables
  • Consider the use of screens
  • Is the use of larger than normal size bridge tables a possibility?
    • Cheltenham BC is investigating a large cleanable surface to sit on top of the table, thus separating players more;
    • Other clubs have put four tables together to ensure players are always more than 1m apart.
  • Ensure alcohol-based hand sanitiser is available
  • Ensure there is good ventilation – do your windows all open?
  • Consult the Government Sage document on ventilation parts of which may be useful. It can be seen here
  • Catering – is it safer for players to bring their own snacks and drink? Can the club at least provide disposable paper cups?
  • Toilets – is there hot water and a supply of disposable paper towels available? Consider and plan to avoid queuing at the toilets.

Preparing for the bridge:

  • Consider using only Mitchell movements so that half the room remain seated throughout the event
  • All players should have their own bidding boxes.  Will they be provided by the club, or can they be purchased by players at the time of restart?
  • Bridgemates should only be used by one person at each table (and sanitised after play ends)
  • Cards –  can there be a set of boards for each table?
  • Should players be required to wear masks?
  • Payment method – is a cashless-only system possible?
    • Clubs well advanced in using these include Basingstoke BC (Spadetickets), Oxford BC (Bookwhen) and Bath BC (Bridgewebs). Our Clubs Liaison Officer Jonathan Lillycrop would be happy to help clubs find out more about this.

Other items to consider:

  • Insurance:   Ensure the club’s insurance is up-to-date, and all instructions are complied with.

Wider implications of Re-opening

What proportion of players will want to return immediately to playing F2F?

Should your club open to all players on day one – will that result in too many players turning up? Perhaps you might consider advance booking.

Will some players want to continue online, at least for a period? Consider running games played simultaneously in the club and online, with scoring across the field.

Does your club have an action plan in place to enable it to respond quickly if there is a temporary return to restrictions or lockdown?

Sharing information

There was a lengthy discussion about advice on social distancing last year on the EBU club forum and we will post this document there as well to start a new thread, which will allow clubs, counties and members share ideas and information with each other, avoiding everyone having to look for everything afresh.

Earlier information provided about Covid-19 issues can still be found here on this website.

April 12, 2021