Guidance on restarting league snooker
These COVID-19 guidelines apply to England only. They have been produced in line with UK Government announcements on the easing of lockdown restrictions.
They should be followed in conjunction with the EPSB’s English Snooker Facilities Re-opening Guidelines.
The EPSB acknowledges that competitive snooker and billiards through local league activity plays a pivotal role both for sustaining our network of clubs and in benefitting the physical and mental health of individuals who participate.
Affiliated snooker clubs in England that wish to host local league competitions, including visiting teams, can do so from 17 May 2021, provided the club can offer a COVID-19 secure environment and that all parties can safely adopt the guidelines contained in this document.
The EPSB has produced this guidance to make the return to snooker and billiards as safe as possible. We recognise that risk in sport cannot be completely eradicated, but with caution and care, risks can be reduced and the benefits of team sport fully enjoyed again.
We recommend that affiliated clubs, local league committees and league players carefully read the guidance contained below to understand how we can all play snooker and billiards safely, following measures to mitigate the risks of COVID-19 transmission.
All clubs hosting competitive league matches will need to comply with the guidelines set out by the EPSB in its English Snooker Facilities Re-opening Guidelines.
These include the following key points applicable to league competition:
Standards of Hygiene
- Commit to a thorough clean of the venue daily
- Access to hand sanitiser will be provided at all tables, entrances and toilets
- Club snooker balls and boxes/trays will be cleaned and wiped after every match/rubber
- Staff should wear face coverings and gloves
- Table and equipment will be cleaned between matches/rubbers, with special attention to touch points, such as table edges, scoreboards, triangle, rests
- Match start/finish times should be carefully considered to avoid any overlap with other club members, and allowing time to clean the area
- Venue entry will be controlled/monitored by staff, where applicable. Social distancing measures should be in place to control any queues
- Clubs must conduct risk assessments that carefully consider their snooker table layouts to determine how many tables can feasibly be in use to allow safe social distancing
- Clear signage for customer flow to enable players to get to and from allocated tables. This includes government guidance signage on prevention measures
- Club will monitor toilet usage to mitigate too many people being in the same area
Leagues and host clubs must consider safety first, particularly minimising the risk of Covid-19 infection/transmission.
A thorough risk assessment must be undertaken/updated by the league, liaising with host clubs. Appropriate measures must be put in place to ensure participants, staff and volunteers are protected.
Leagues should carefully consider its selection of host clubs in terms of the space available around their snooker tables, the capacity of the clubs, hygiene and social distancing measures in line with the current UK Government guidance and our EPSB Covid-19 Guidance.
Pre-attendance Symptom Check
All league players should undergo a pre-attendance self-assessment for any COVID-19 symptoms using the information on the NHS website before leaving home.
No-one should leave home to participate in snooker or billiards if they, or someone they live with, has symptoms of COVID -19, including:
– A high temperature
– A new, continuous cough
– A loss of, or change to, their sense of smell or taste
If individuals demonstrate any such symptoms, they must follow the NHS guidance on self-isolation.
NHS Test and Trace
If any participating player develops symptoms of COVID-19, that player should be directed to follow the NHS test and trace guidelines.
To support NHS test and trace, clubs and leagues should keep a temporary record of participants for 21 days, and assist NHS test and trace with requests for that data if needed.
The club must also display an official NHS QR code poster for customers as an alternative.
The league and host clubs should liaise to ensure an agreed approach to activity that is feasible to deliver safely, which should be communicated to all league members in advance of a return to play.
Leagues should make its members aware in advance that undertaking any activity, including snooker and billiards, has the potential for increased risk of transmission of COVID-19, and advise players to read the UK Government’s guidance on staying safe outside your home.
Leagues should consider the UK Government’s guidance on shielding and protecting people who are clinically extremely vulnerable from COVID-19 to offer specific advice to any league members who fall into the clinically vulnerable category.
League Format Adjustments
As stated above, clubs in England that wish to host local league competitions, including visiting teams, can do so from 17 May 2021, provided the club can offer a COVID-19 secure environment and can safely adopt the guidelines contained in this document.
We know that leagues across the country have a huge variety in format. Each league should consider its format so that it complies with the current UK Government guidelines.
Based on these current guidelines, we recommend that leagues apply the following principles from 17 May 2021 until such time as social distancing rules are further relaxed:
- League formats should be adjusted to ensure players do not compete in a bubble of more than six players during a league fixture, which includes opposition players. We have given some examples in the ‘League Format Scenarios’ section below.
- We advise leagues to consider formats of singles, doubles or teams of up to three players. But please read the ‘League Format Scenarios’ below for suggestions to leagues that wish to continue to operate larger teams. Our advice aligns to the UK Government’s social distancing guidance for indoor settings from 17 May 2021, which should include opposition players. In all scenarios, careful preparation will be required to ensure adherence. There should be no interactions between designated social bubbles of up to six people during a league fixture at any venue.
- Leagues should consider scheduling matches/rubbers to minimise team interactions wherever possible, i.e. so that players on both teams know what time they are required to play, which player they will play and which table they will play on.
- League teams should consider staggering arrival and leaving times of individual players to minimise team interactions.
- Leagues should schedule fixtures to avoid clubs hosting multiple teams/matches where social distancing between tables cannot be observed.
- Refereeing can recommence, with referees or markers maintaining social distancing at all times and following the club and player protocols. Gloves should be worn, which must be washed or disposed of after use. Any referee or marker should be considered part of the six-person social bubble.
- There should be no presentations or other activities that would encourage a gathering of people
League Format Scenarios
- If a league decides that it wishes to operate with teams of four players, this needs to be very carefully considered so that the players involved on both teams can be allocated into two distinct social bubbles for any given league fixture, i.e. two bubbles of four players, each consisting of two players from each team.
- If a league decides that it wishes to operate with teams of five players, this needs to be very carefully considered so that the players involved on both teams can be allocated into two distinct social bubbles for any given league fixture, i.e. one bubble of four players and one bubble of six players, consisting of two players from each team and three players from each team respectively.
- If a league decides that it wishes to operate with teams of six players, this needs to be very carefully considered so that the players involved on both teams can be allocated into two distinct social bubbles for any given league fixture, i.e. two bubbles of six players, each consisting of three players from each team.
- Each social bubble will need to play their matches on designated tables at a social distance from other social bubbles.
- Each social bubble should remain completely separate for the duration of the fixture, including travel to and from the venue, entry to and exit from the venue and whenever not playing.
- In essence, the distinct social bubbles are effectively treated as separate fixtures, with the overall result being a combination of results from the separate social bubbles.
Players should wash their hands with soap and water for at least 20 seconds before leaving home and sanitise their hands before and after play.
Participants are encouraged to follow best practice for travel including minimising use of public transport and limiting car sharing wherever possible. See the government’s safer travel guidance for passengers for further information.
Players must not enter the club if they are symptomatic or living with someone who has a possible confirmed case of COVID-19 – please read the ‘Pre-attendance Symptom Check’, above.
At the club…
All players shall abide by the following protocols throughout their time in the venue:
- Social distancing between players should be maintained at all times, in line with the latest UK Government advice on staying alert and safe (social distancing)
- Players will be encouraged to bring their own cues from home
- Player seating will be at least two metres apart
- Players will have access to hand sanitiser at all tables, entrances and toilets
- All players will be allocated their own set of table accessories to minimise contact, and will be responsible for fetching and returning this equipment to its position in the club
- Strictly no handshakes or physical contact between players
- Avoid unnecessarily touching club surfaces, and minimise sharing touch points such as triangles and score boards
- Prior to re-entering the club, after any toilet breaks or intervals, players will be requested to perform hand washing for 20 seconds with soap and water in addition to using a hand sanitiser
- Players should use their own cue, chalk and cue towel, and not leave these on the table
- Players must pack up and leave the designated table at the end of the match/rubber before the next players approach the table
- Players must avoid congregating around the table before or after play to allow access for others
- All table accessories and equipment used will be sanitised after each match/rubber
- Sharing food or drink is not permitted
Updated 18 March 2021.