We already have quite a number of clubs back to live bridge, and the reports have been good. Numbers have been smaller than usual in places, although some clubs have been up to 13-15 tables, but the feedback is that everyone is glad to be back amongst their friends and with cards in their hands. Other clubs are planning to return later this month, or in early November, and in that context we have been receiving some enquiries as to whether we anticipate any change in the CBAI’s guidance to clubs in light of the further easing of restrictions planned by the government for 22 October.
The short answer is that, apart from the lifting of the restriction on numbers attending from the current maximum of 100 (which has been flagged in advance by the government, and which is not an issue for most bridge clubs anyway) we do NOT see any likely change in our guidance. The COVID-19 virus remains a threat, albeit a lesser one as vaccination coverage continues to climb. However, even fully vaccinated people can contract COVID, and in some cases, the consequences will be serious. Furthermore, the government has indicated that it expects some restrictions to remain in place until at least Spring 2022. The demographic of the bridge community means that many of our members are amongst the most vulnerable of the population, so we need to be more cautious than many groups.
Our recommendation remains for the moment, therefore, that:
- Each club should appoint a COVID officer responsible for managing the club’s approach, communicating it to members, and dealing with any issues that arise
- Attendance should be confined to immune participants (i.e. fully vaccinated or recovered from COVID-19 within the past six months)
- Perspex table screens should be used at all tables; if screens cannot be used for any reason, then players should wear facemasks throughout
- Players should wear facemasks on entry and exit, and when moving around, but masks are not necessary at the table if screens are being used
- Playing rooms should be well-ventilated
- Tables should be spaced out to ensure that players are suitably distanced, and players should avoid congregating
- Equipment should not be shared amongst the players where possible – sharing cards is unavoidable for most clubs, but players should use one bidding box throughout, and only North should touch the boards and the scoring equipment
- Players should sanitise their hands regularly, using an alcohol-based sanitiser
It is also essential that any member infected by, or showing symptoms of, COVID-19, should NOT attend live bridge under any circumstances.
We all want to return to live bridge as soon as we can. The evidence to date makes it clear that our members are most likely to return to live games if they feel that it is safe to do so. We would therefore urge all clubs to be cognisant of this guidance in putting together their re-opening plans.