Latest message from Pete Ackerley

I wanted to share a short return to play update for our members in Scotland and Wales, as I’m sure you’re keen to understand what the next steps might be for your nations.

Since the recent announcement on lockdown easing plans from the UK Government, we have been closely following announcements from the Scottish and Welsh governments, as well as reaching out to sportscotland and Sport Wales.

Scotland
It’s clear that lockdown easing in Scotland is currently set to run to a very different timetable to England, and there are still a lot of unknowns.

What we do know so far is that, if approved, non-contact outdoor sport for under 18s will be allowed to resume from 15 March. In this instance non-contact sport means an activity where participants are physically separated by the playing rules – for example tennis, curling and cricket – and unfortunately does not include flag football. However, 2m socially distanced team activity for under 18s can also return as part of this step as long as participants do not travel outside their local authority region to take part. We will be updating our guidance for Scotland to reflect this and will share it once the date is confirmed.

We also know that possibly from 26 April, mainland Scotland may move out of lockdown measures and back into the local protection levels system that was in place previously, with most areas starting at Level 3. At this point contact outdoor team sports for children can return which will include U11, U14 and U17 flag activity and U16 contact activity, as well as activity for those members of U19 teams aged 17 or under.

Unfortunately, as things currently stand adult contact team sports are not able to return until an area enters Level 2. Determining whether an area can enter Level 2 is dependent on the prevalence of the virus in that area at a given point in time and may not change Scotland-wide. This gives us no clear timetable for the resumption of flag and contact American football activity for over 18s, as well as leaving other challenges including question marks around when cross-border competition will become possible.

We have a really strong dialogue in place with sportscotland and will be continuing to work with them to look at what will be possible over the coming weeks and months and what exemptions may be granted. As part of our planning, we are preparing for a number of scenarios, including the fallback option of later, regionalised, competitions for our clubs in Scotland.

Wales
Unfortunately, the Welsh government has not yet shared a timeline for easing lockdown. The next review point is scheduled for 12 March, after which we hope to know more, and will then be able to plan accordingly.

What’s next?
In the meantime, our commission leads and their teams are already scenario planning and have started reaching out to club management to understand your thoughts and challenges.

I will continue to keep you updated as we know more.

Pete

Should you have any questions, please contact covid-19@britishamericanfootball.org

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