Further to last week’s update in response to the government announcements detailing the Roadmap out of the current lockdown for England, we want to give you further information about returning to play following a review of the latest government guidance.
Clubs, players, coaches, referees and all snooker stakeholders will be keen to return as soon as practicably possible.
Our advice below is based on our review of the guidance to determine what we feel is safe and legal for clubs to operate as we return to grassroots snooker and billiards.
17 May – return to play
The government has now published specific guidance on reopening business and venues in England, which states that snooker clubs can reopen from 17 May 2021, subject to the government’s four tests being met in respect of its Roadmap to ease restrictions.
From that date, snooker facilities will be able to reopen subject to the restrictions in place on social contact at that point, i.e. in indoor areas, people will be able to meet socially in a group of six, or with one other household.
Indoor hospitality areas will also reopen from 17 May, with table service a requirement.
Organised indoor adult sport can return from 17 May, so leagues and competitions will be permitted to restart, in line with our Covid-19 guidance.
EPSB Covid-19 Guidance
Upon reopening, affiliated clubs must continue to follow our Covid-19 protocols, which we will update in the coming days, until such time that restrictions are fully eased.
It is of paramount importance that we return to our sport as safely as possible to ensure that we bounce back strongly.
We recognise this is a further significant period of time for clubs to remain closed.
There is a wide range of clubs across our network, and we understand that some smaller clubs that do not provide hospitality may feel they could reopen sooner.
However, the indoor social distancing restrictions in place until 17 May, the government’s business closures listings and the cautious approach to returning to any indoor activity that underpins the government’s roadmap make this decision challenging on health, safety and legal grounds.
We are extremely proud of the efforts that clubs have made to put in place safe operational procedures and we are confident that this will enable a strong return to our sport.
The EPSB continues to offer advice and support to clubs, including last week’s publication of guidance on commercial leases.
Some clubs have already identified creative ways to develop new revenue streams in the interim period, including online equipment sales aimed at players eagerly anticipating their return.
In addition, clubs with outdoor hospitality areas should have the opportunity to open those outdoor areas from 12 April.
Clubs must continue to consult with their Local Authority and Health and Safety Executive in respect of reopening their facilities.
We will share updates from around our affiliated clubs on our dedicated 147 Club Members Facebook forum and in our club newsletter.
Elite athletes are exempt from current lockdown restrictions for the purposes of training and competing.
Further information can be found in the government’s guidance on the phased return of elite sport.
Clubs that allow elite player practice must follow the EPSB’s Covid-19 facility guidance. They should also consider all legal and insurance-related implications and must consult with their Local Authority and Health and Safety Executive.
Any affiliated club that wishes to seek further advice on this should contact us by email.
Junior players (U18s)
While government guidance is allowing under-18s to return to all forms of sport from 12 April, we acknowledge the complexities for clubs wishing to open solely for organised junior sessions.
Clubs should consider all legal and insurance-related implications and must consult with their Local Authority and Health and Safety Executive before taking the decision to run any junior sessions from 12 April.
There is further guidance on running such activities available on the government website.
We are awaiting further guidance on coaching from Sport England and UK Coaching.
Many WPBSA coaches are continuing to use video technology to provide coaching sessions and resources, where this is possible, using private snooker facilities.
We will publish a fuller update on a return to coaching once further information is available.
The dates detailed throughout this update are subject to the government’s four tests being met in respect of its Roadmap to ease restrictions.
We will continue to update our guidance pages as further details are announced.
Please check back here regularly for the latest news.