English Bowls Federation


Season 2021.


Return to Play (RTP) Guidance

                                                                                     Issued: 26th March 2021

As per the announced government roadmap for the easing of lockdown restrictions organised outdoor sport can re-commence from Monday 29th March 2021 providing the affiliated Counties, Clubs and members follow this guidance to return to play safely.

This RTP guidance should be used in conjunction with the latest government guidance and may change to reflect any changes made by the UK government.

This guidance is effective from midnight, Monday 29th March 2021 and replaced all other guidance issued by the EBF.

This guidance falls under the classification of organised sport in accordance with the issued Department for Culture, Media, and Sport (DCMS) guidance and covers:

National Competitions & Championships (including qualifying stages)

All matches, competitions and leagues involving affiliated Club and Counties

Inter affiliated club matches

Internal affiliated club events or organised sessions for club members

Coaching by an approved coach

Education courses (outdoor) working to a prescribed syllabus

For the avoidance of doubt any activity that is not listed above falls outside of the scope of the organised sport category and falls into the informal activity category where different rules apply. This includes casual play such as ‘roll-ups’.

The government have given an exemption for organised sport regarding the numbers of people that can mix and play at one time, whereas with informal sport the rule of 6 or the mixing of two households strictly applies.

From Monday 29th March the following applies:

If activity applies within Organised Sport category above:

Singles. The use of marker is permitted.

*  When playing triples or fours there must be a rink free between each match to allow for social distancing.

Any combination of formats may be played, however there should be no more than an average of four people per rink on the green at any one time.

If activity falls with the Informal Activity category, then the ‘rule of six’ OR two households mixing only apply. For the avoidance of doubt, only singles, pairs and triples play are permitted to be played informally e.g. for a roll-up.


You should use your own equipment and only you should handle your equipment. Where shared items such as jacks and mats are used you should sanitise your hands prior and after touching the equipment. Scorecards should be retained by one person during a game.

Any other equipment should be used by one person only during a game where possible. If this is not possible hands should be sanitised prior to and after using the equipment.

Hygiene & Health

Everyone should sanitise their hands prior to before and after the game and at regular intervals during the game. Handshakes are not permitted at any time.

If you or anyone living in the same household as you are showing any COVID-19 symptoms, or you or any of your household are self-isolating, you should stay at home and not playing bowls until you either are allowed to are permitted to leave you house under the current quarantine guidance issued by the government.


Track and Trace

All clubs are required to keep records of who has played each day and with whom for a period of 21 days to support NHS Track and Trace. It is recommended that the club display an NHS QR code so that participants can scan using a mobile device. (What if people don’t have smart phones and should it be mentioned here about booking systems?)

Changing, Toilets, Clubhouse’s

Currently changing rooms are to be remained closed. Toilets are permitted to be open as is hand washing facilities in line with COVID-19 safe guidelines e.g. One-way systems, limited numbers and social distancing. Everyone should come changed ready to play. Changing facilities can only be used in the an emergency situations or by disabled people who are taking part in organised sport and physical activity. Additional exceptions must be made for essential activity such as the provision of first aid or to essential equipment for games.

Cleaning protocols should be put in place to limit COVID-19 transmission in public places. Touch points (e.g. handrails and gates) should be particular areas of focus for increased cleaning.



Currently spectators are not permitted apart from carers for disabled people, or adults needed to supervise under 18’s in a safeguarding role. Where this is necessary adults should not mix with others from outside their household or support bubble.



You may travel to participate in bowls. It is advised that you should remain local and avoid any unnecessary travel. Car sharing Is currently not permitted with someone outside your household or your support bubble.



You do not need to be vaccinated to particate in bowls and clubs should not ban stop anyone who has not been vaccinated from playing.


Risk Assessments

All clubs should carry out a risk assessment prior to retuning to play. It is advised that clubs have a session booking system and include suitable gaps between each session to ensure maximum group limits aren’t exceeded.

This guidance will be updated at each stage of the Roadmap to reflect changes as approved by the government.