Bowlers get the green light to return to action - albeit with Covid-19 restrictions

PUBLISHED: 10:10 18 May 2020 | UPDATED: 10:10 18 May 2020

Madeira bowls. Ref exsp 25 17TI 5304. Picture: Terry Ife

Madeira bowls. Ref exsp 25 17TI 5304. Picture: Terry Ife


Bowls Club have been given the green light to allow play on their greens once again, but there are a number of strict rules for clubs, and bowlers, to adhere to.

Madeira bowls. Ref exsp 6936-21-15SH. Picture: Simon HornMadeira bowls. Ref exsp 6936-21-15SH. Picture: Simon Horn

Bowlers are the latest sporting folk to be allowed to return to action, albeit while observing very strict rules, writes Stephen Birley.

The Department of Culture, media and Sport (DCMS) have published a guide for a return to bowls.

Sidmouth bowling club friendly. Ref shsp 19 17TI 2428. Picture: Terry IfeSidmouth bowling club friendly. Ref shsp 19 17TI 2428. Picture: Terry Ife

Issued on May 14, 2020, it reads:

The physical and mental wellbeing of our bowls community is of paramount importance.

Bowls England wants to support those clubs that wish to reopen and members who would like to play, to do so safely and in accordance with Government guidance. The Government this week announced that facilities associated with outdoor sports and physical activities, including lawn bowls, may now reopen.

Government guidance released on May 13, 2020 states: “You can play lawn bowls where facilities have reopened, but you can only take part in these activities by yourself, or with members of your household or with one person outside of your household, as long as you are able to maintain social distancing.”

Bowls 11Bowls 11

Individual clubs must decide whether they wish to reopen having taken into account Government advice.

This guidance document contains the following

The coming weeks and months may also provide an opportunity for you to encourage members of your own household, who currently don’t play, to give bowls a try – clubs are reminded to ensure that any activity by non-members is in accordance with their insurers. Meanwhile, keep safe, take care, look after yourself and, when you do return to the green, enjoy your bowls.

Bowls 4Bowls 4

Stay alert, control the virus, save lives.

Clubs – Summary of Recommended Action Bowls England recommends that all clubs follow the guidance below (the guidance may be adapted if necessary for your club, so long as it remains consistent with Government advice and social distancing requirements):

Play arrangements

• Off-site booking system for rink allocation (i.e. Google Calendar)

• Minimum of 20 minutes between allocated time slots to enable players to arrive/depart safely

• Clubs to communicate in advance with players to advise on social distancing requirements that are being applied on arrival at the club – for example not leaving cars until a certain time before their allocated time slot

• Only play on alternate rinks e.g. 1, 3, 5 OR 2, 4, 6 (keep an empty rink between rinks that are being played on)

• Maximum of six players on club premises at any one time (assuming average of two people per rink who are not from the same household).

Clubs may wish to increase this number if more than two people from the same household are to participate on the same rink.

• No visitors/spectators to be admitted to the club

• Capping the number of occasions a player can book a rink each week to ensure that the available capacity is distributed fairly Playing Formats The following playing formats are in accordance with Government guidelines:

• Individuals playing bowls on their own on a single rink

• Two individuals from two different households playing on a single rink (no marker)

• Members of the same household on a single rink (no marker unless from same household) Social distancing rules must be strictly adhered to; you must remain at least two metres apart from other bowlers (who are not part of your household) at all times. Clubhouse and Facilities

• Until further notice, all clubhouses must be closed

• Limited essential access (for example to use the toilets and hand washing facilities) may be allowed by the club • Sanitiser must be available for cleaning hands and equipment before and after playing

• No rubbish bins – players must take any rubbish away with them social distancing rules must be strictly adhered to; you must remain at least two metres apart from other bowlers (who are not part of your household) at all times.

Equipment To minimise the risk of infection, only essential items (as below) should be utilised during any session:

• Mat

• Bowls

• Jack

• Rink markers

• Gloves

• Scorecards (these should be retained by one person only if required)

• Bowling arm/lifter (for use by one person only if required)

To minimise the risk of infection, any other equipment is not deemed essential equipment at this time and should not be utilised.

This includes:

• Scoreboards

• Bowls pushers

• Ditch markers

• 2m distance sticks

• Chalk

time and should not be utilised. This includes:

• Scoreboards

• Bowls pushers

• Ditch markers

• 2m distance sticks

• Chalk

Players – Summary of Recommended Actions

Bowls England recommends that all players follow the guidance below (the guidance may be

adapted if necessary to meet individual needs, so long as they remain consistent with Government

advice and social distancing requirements):

In advance

• Do not go to the club if you are experiencing any coronavirus (COVID-19) symptoms or any

cold or flu-like symptoms, in particular a cough or a high temperature. Use the NHS 111

website or helpline and seek advice. For your own protection, follow the advice about selfisolation if you are, or are living with, someone in one of the vulnerable groups

• Dress appropriately before you get to the club to avoid the need to change clothes – change

shoes immediately before and after your game

• Travel to the green on your own or with members of your own household only – do not offer

a lift to, or accept a lift from, anyone outside your household. Do not arrive more than 10

minutes before your allocated booking time.

Personal care

• Avoid using toilets at the club wherever possible and clean anything you have touched after


• Take any food or drink you might need with you

• Wash or sanitise your hands and sanitise any equipment (including bowls, jacks and mats)

you use before and after you play – do not assume that the person before you has sanitised

the equipment thoroughly

• Sanitise padlocks, keys and door handles before and after use

Playing the game

• You should only play with people from your own household or by yourself or, as long as you

stay two metres apart, with one other person from outside your household. Groups of more

than two people must all be from the same household. This means you cannot have two or

three people from one household plus one person from outside the household playing


• Do not shake hands before, during or after a game

• Do not ‘high-five‘ OR ‘hug’ other players to celebrate shots or a win

• Only one player should handle the mat during the session

• Two jacks (one at each end) should be used and this should be set by one player only

throughout the session

• If scoring:

o Social distancing rules must be strictly adhered to at all times

o Do not touch your opponents’ bowls with your hands

o Avoid measuring for shot/s

When you leave

• When you finish playing, change your shoes and leave the club immediately – ensuring that

you have sanitised all equipment used and that the club is secure (as applicable)


When can we reopen?

Outdoor bowls clubs are now allowed to open. Each club, including council-owned sports facilities,

will make their own decision about when their facilities are ready to open and can be operated

safely. You should only reopen or restart activities as soon as you feel able to do so safely. Until you

feel it is safe and responsible to reopen you should remain closed.

What games can we play?

All activity should be consistent with the government guidance regarding health, social distancing

and hygiene. That means that participants and others can maintain a safe two metre distance, that

good hygiene practices are in place, that equipment is disinfected regularly, and that it is clear that

anyone who is symptomatic or suspects they have been exposed to the virus does not take part and

remains at home.

What about competitions within our club?

Any measures clubs can put in place to enable an activity to return needs to be capable of being

adapted to follow government guidelines on social distancing e.g. strengthening or relaxing

measures at short notice. Organisations are encouraged to think creatively about how best to make

their sport or activity possible within the guidelines.

The limit on gatherings - no more than two, unless members of the same household - means that it

is unlikely to be possible to organise amateur events or competitions at this time. The primary

purpose of bowling activity at this time is for physical and mental well-being.

Can clinically vulnerable people (such as people aged 70 and over) participate in lawn bowls?

The advice for clinically vulnerable groups remains the same. If you are in this group you are advised

to stay at home as much as possible and, if you do go out, take particular care to minimise contact

with others outside your household. If you are living in a household with a possible COVID-19

infection or if you are classified as extremely vulnerable on health grounds, the guidance is that you

should remain at, and exercise at, home.

Can I receive coaching?

One on one coaching is permitted if outside and remaining a minimum of 2 metres apart.

Can we open the club bar and kitchen?

No – Bars and restaurants, including any food or drink facilities inside a clubhouse must remain

closed until further notice. Take-away services can be offered, but any hot or cold food must be

consumed off the premises, outside of the building.

Can we use the club toilets?

Yes – toilets and throughways may be kept open, but guidance on hygiene should be followed.

Can we use the changing rooms?

No – all indoor facilities, apart from toilets and through-ways should be kept closed.

Covid-19: Supplementary Guidance for Lawn Bowls Clubs

Can we share equipment?

Where possible we recommend that you limit sharing of equipment, for example you should use

your own bowls. If you are sharing equipment (mats/jacks) you should wash your hands thoroughly

before and after use. It is a decision for clubs/facility managers whether or not they loan/hire out

bowls. If you do, we would expect you to follow sensible precautions and clean in between users, as

well as the safely working guidance.

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