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Return to Play: Step Three-English Clubs only

Issued: 12 May 2021

The key changes for our sport at Step 3 are:

All restrictions on formats and numbers for organised activity under the jurisdiction of British Crown Green Bowling Association will be removed.

Car sharing will be permitted.

Indoor hospitality can resume.

Spectators can return.

The return of sport and physical activity is vital to the physical and mental health of the nation, and we know our sport has a big role to play in providing an opportunity for outdoor activity as the lockdown restrictions ease.

The guidance we have developed below for our affiliated clubs supplements the Government guidance by covering situations specific to the sport of bowls.

In accordance with its roadmap, the government has now announced its plans to move to Step 3 from Monday 17 May, and in line with the government’s announcement we are delighted to confirm the following:

1. All restrictions on formats and numbers for organised activity under the jurisdiction of BCGBA will be removed.

2. Car sharing, spectators and indoor hospitality will be permitted

This latest announcement is a great step forward for our sport, as we expect the majority of clubs to be able to operate in a fairly normal manner from Monday 17 May.

We recognise that the restrictions on car sharing and spectators in particular have presented challenges for some clubs and players and, like other sports, made representation to government on behalf of our affiliated clubs. We are therefore delighted that these will be permitted from Monday 17 May.

With growing confidence among players returning to the sport and a high number of participants vaccinated, we are also pleased to confirm that all restrictions regarding the number of players on green at any one time will be removed from Monday 17 May. We would encourage clubs to plan sessions with reduced capacity for those who may still be building their confidence in returning to the club environment.

This latest ‘return to play’ guide will be valid until Step 4 (no earlier than Monday 21 June).

We recommend that all clubs consider this document together with the government guidance. All items may be adapted as necessary to meet your club’s specific circumstances, so long as your actions remain consistent with government advice and social distancing requirements.

If your club is not affiliated to BCGBA, please email us at and we can take you through the affiliation process, including connecting you with your County Association.

This guidance is applicable from Monday 17 May and replaces all previous guidance that we have issued.

At Step 4 (Monday 21 June at the earliest) we expect all restrictions to be lifted. We shall update our guidance to affiliated clubs once the government has confirmed the country is moving to Step 4 (a decision is expected on Monday 14 June).

Step 3: Monday 17 May – Key points

From Monday 17 May until Step 4, the following applies to outdoor bowls:

• Play is permitted in accordance with the format of play below

• Bowls coaching and other curriculum-based activity is permitted

• Greens maintenance is permitted

• Car sharing is permitted in accordance with government guidance

• Spectators are permitted in accordance with social distancing rules and social gathering limits (no more than group of 30 outdoors)

• Clubhouses and facilities that serve both indoor and outdoor hospitality are permitted in

accordance with government guidance. Social distancing rules and social gathering limits must be strictly adhered to.

• Changing rooms can be opened in accordance with the guidance on page 5

• Clubs are advised to continue with pre-booking systems

Format of Play

Any combination of formats may be played under the ‘organised sport’ exemption.

Social Interaction

Social interaction before and after play should only take place in separate and distinct groups consisting of up to 30 people. We recognise that each club is different and may wish to set its own limit for numbers of people off the green at any one time.


We would advise players to avoid using shared equipment whenever If you are sharing equipment, for example jacks/mats, practise strict hand hygiene including sanitisation after using any shared equipment.


Spectators for all outdoor sports are permitted at Step 3, but need to adhere to social distancing rules and social gathering limits (groups of 30 outdoors). This number is in addition to those who are participating on the green.

Travel Car sharing will be permitted in Step 3 for all sports.

Changing rooms

Changing rooms can be opened, but participants should be encouraged to avoid or minimise use where possible. Participants should socially distance whilst in changing rooms. Subject to available space, more than one household can use changing facilities at one time but they must not mix and must adhere to capacity limits set by the club. Face coverings should be worn at all times when indoors. Use of these areas for essential activity, such as provision of first aid or access to essential equipment for training and matches, is allowed. Toilet facilities can also open.


Bowls coaching and other curriculum-based activity is permitted.


We recommend using hand sanitiser at regular intervals, especially if you have to touch communal surfaces or equipment. Once you are home, remember to wash your hands thoroughly.


Clubhouses and facilities that serve food and drink can open. In Step 3, both indoor and outdoor hospitality will be permitted. The guidance on hospitality settings will be updated ahead of Step 3 to provide further information about this. People using clubhouses and hospitality facilities must adhere to legal gathering limits and wider government guidance for hospitality. (Rule of 6 applies for groups indoors).

The future

Step 3 (Monday 17 May at the earliest)

• Larger groups able to gather at clubs

• Inside catering permitted with restrictions

• Overnight stays allowed

Step 4 (Monday 21 June at the earliest)

• All restrictions are expected to be lifted

Useful Links

Guidance for the public and sport providers on how to participate in grassroots sport and physical activity during COVID restrictions

Restaurants, pubs, bars and takeaway services

Sport England – Return to Play Guidance and Club Resources

Activity Alliance – Specialist support for disabled people



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