New Government Rules about Social Distancing


The government announced on 9th September that starting on Monday 14th September, social gatherings of more than six people will be illegal in England. Although there will be some exceptions to this, none seem to cover the situation of any bridge clubs.

We announced then that this seemed to us to remove any doubt there may have been in our earlier advice to clubs about whether clubs can run any face-to-face games, and made clear that this will not be possible until such time as further changes or clarifications to the rules may be announced.

We have since then had our attention drawn to another two more recent government documents: the first says:

Community facilities following COVID-19 Secure guidance can host more than 6 people in total, but no one should visit or socialise in a group of greater than 6.

If partaking in permitted activities users of COVID-19 secure community facilities should limit their social interactions with anyone they do not live with. Whilst activities may have 6 or more people participating (where it is safe to do so and capacity permits) it is important for all parties to maintain socially distant, 2 metres or 1 metre with actions taken to reduce the risk of transmission (where 2 metres is not viable) between households.

And then it says:

3c: Recreation, leisure and social gatherings
Managers and providers in community facilities are not permitted to organise or hold informal or formal social groups, clubs and activities unless limited to groups of six people following social distancing rules.

However, for activities and social groups where there is a significant likelihood of groups mixing and socialising ( and where it will be difficult to prevent mingling and therefore breaking the law) should not take place in a community facility. These may include but are not limited to:

*formal or informal clubs and hobby clubs (e.g. women’s institute, veteran’s associations, freemasons, sewing clubs, book clubs, crafts clubs, reading groups)
*amateur choirs and orchestras
*informally organised sport activities on facilities grounds (professionally organised sport activities are exempt)

The second new document (updated 22nd September) says:

3.18 Can I go to my hobby club / amateur musical group / other leisure activity?
It is against the law to gather in groups of more than 6, where people are from different households or support bubbles. Some activities - such as those organised for under-18s - are exempt. In a COVID-19 Secure venue or public outdoor place, non-professional performing arts activity, including choirs, orchestras or drama groups can continue to rehearse or perform together where this is planned activity in line with the performing arts guidance and if they can do so in a way that ensures that there is no interaction between groups of more than 6 at any time.

If an amateur group is not able to ensure that no mingling takes place between these sub-groups of no more than 6 (including when arriving at or leaving activity or in any breaks or socialising) then such non-professional activity should not take place.

If suitable changes do emerge in the future and a club wishes to consider re-opening, it will still be essential to follow our earlier advice about completing a thorough Risk Assessment Form (Word or PDF) and complying with all remaining social distancing rules. The age and health-vulnerability or risk-status of club members will also need to be taken into account when making any such future plans.

We have been making decisions for our own EBU congresses and competitions on a monthly basis, for the forthcoming three-month period. We have cancelled all such events until the end of November and will review December at the end of this month. If we feel able to hold a face-to-face Year End Congress in London, then we will also hold an online congress at the same time for all those who can’t or don’t want to come to the London congress. We will not hold a live Northern Year End Congress.