With effect from Monday 28 February, the government has removed the regulatory requirement for face masks to be worn in indoor settings, including bridge games and classes.

As with many decisions taken during this pandemic, there will be mixed opinions on this change. Some people will be delighted at no longer having to wear a mask, and at taking a further step back to the lives they lived before COVID. Others will be more cautious, and many will continue to prefer to wear a mask in indoor gatherings. The first advice to bridge clubs is to respect these different opinions to the extent that they can.

Even though mask-wearing is no longer required by regulation, the government’s own statement does suggest that there continues to be a case for doing so. It notes that the virus is still with us, and outlines three areas that still require our collective response, the third of which advises “continue to manage risk for yourself and others who are more vulnerable including by wearing masks, physical distancing and avoiding crowds, as well as basic hand and respiratory hygiene”.

So while bridge clubs are no longer obliged to insist on mask wearing (or screens if they are being used in place of masks), there is nothing to stop them doing so if the majority of the members would like that to be the case. Ultimately, this will be a decision for each individual club, in light of the wishes of its members; we strongly suspect, given the lack of consensus, that it may be difficult to satisfy all viewpoints.