Return to Indoor Bowls Version 6

Guidance Document for Indoor Clubs

To Prepare and Open





The English Indoor Bowling Association confirmed that Indoor Bowls could start again from Saturday 25th July 2020, following the Government’s further easing of COVID-19 lockdown announcement on 9th July.

Therefore, any club wanting to open from this date will have to demonstrate that their facility and bowls activities are COVID secure.

The following guidance document, which has been produced in line with the Government’s COVID-19 Directives and Guidance, will aid Clubs in making final preparations so that they can ensure that they are able to comply with the conditions associated with being allowed to return to operations.

With regards to conditions on the number of people allowed to participate the Government have stated that for Indoor Sports facilities gatherings of groups of up to 6 people can take place so long as the activity and venue are COVID-19 Secure.

This means that Clubs need to have systems in place to ensure that on every rink used players are 2 metres socially distanced throughout the game. Alternatively, social distancing of 1m with players wearing face covering and standing side by side is permissible, as they are mitigating actions which reduce the risk of transmission.

The Aim

The EIBA in producing this guidance document wants to provide Clubs with areas which need to be focused on and how they can be implemented. Not all Clubs are the same so the implementation will be specific to them, but the requirement to implement procedures is key.

These areas are based upon the Government’s directives as of 22nd September 2020 but please note as the COVID-19 situation is going to fluctuate over the next number of weeks / months the EIBA will continue to assess this document and if appropriate re-issue with updated sections.

For ease of planning the Guidance has been split into 4 sections: -

  • The club
  • Playing the sport
  • The players
  • Holding meetings

It is important that Clubs critically assess the requirements and decide that, under the current conditions, whether they are able or unable to open, due to not being able to protect people and or is not financially viable to do so.

To assist further you can refer to the key Government webpages listed in the Key Reference Section.

The Club

Club management need to critically review and fully complete a COVID-19 risk assessment on how they can set the facility up and play bowls so that they have the legal social-distancing and hygiene measures in place, in order to mitigate the risk of transmission.

This risk assessment should be continually reviewed and updated as the club is used by the Membership.

  1. Premises

Entrance & Exit

Identify how members are able to enter the club for the start of their game and exit the club afterwards, keeping 2 metres apart or if not feasible 1 metre plus, with mitigating risk procedures: -

Use one door for entry and another for exit. This would allow people for the next session to enter the building safely.

If only one door place 2m distance markings outside and inside to aid the members keeping apart. Also allow sufficient time between sessions so to avoid people entering and exiting at the same time.

Inform all members that they can only enter the building at specific times for their session e.g. 15 minutes before the start and leave immediately afterwards.

Place a sign at the entrance informing members that if they have any of the symptoms listed e.g. persistent dry cough, temperature, loss of taste & smell that they should not enter the building.

Access to and from the rinks (see appendix One)

Identify and appropriately mark how the players can get on and off the green safely.

Limit or remove the number of chairs and tables at the end of the rink in order to give social distancing space.

Changing rooms / Lockers

Changing rooms should ideally be kept closed and be appropriately blocked off and signed.

Players should come dressed to play with their bowls and shoes in a bag which they change into at the rink side.

However, if you can put plans in place and actively manage limiting people gathering then lockers could be used.

Consider relaxing dress code so that all players need to bring are bowls shoes to change into.


These need to be available but consideration as to how many people can enter at one time, due to space.

May need to operate a one in one out system with appropriate signage to be used to indicate vacant / occupied.

If access is via the changing rooms then block off the changing area and have route to the toilet clearly marked.

Ideally provide paper towels in a dispenser, although hand driers are now permitted as being safe to use.

Display posters about appropriate hand hygiene as a reminder for members to follow.

Toilets should be cleaned regularly, and a schedule of cleaning is prominently displayed.

Bar / Restaurant / Lounge area

From Thursday 24th September these are only permitted to be open between the hours of 5am to 10pm with table service only. They have to be COVID-19 secure and follow the appropriate Government Guidance (this can be viewed by using the specific link listed in the Key Reference Section).

With regards to the number of people using these facilities at any one time this is governed by how you can mitigate the risk of transmission. The maximum number of people per table is 6 and they are not to socialise with other tables, even if they know them.

To help you operate the bar and or restaurant please use the sample Checklist, appendix Four.


Face Coverings (for full details please view the specific link listed in the Key Reference section)

The Government on Friday 21st August 2020 made the wearing of a face covering mandatory in Indoor Sports Stadiums. As a result, any person entering an Indoor Bowls Club will need to wear a face covering at all times, until they leave the premises.

Once in the Club individuals would only be permitted to remove the face covering for the following actions: -

  • When on the rink bowling with 2 metre social distancing in place, due to partaking in exercise.
  • Due to a physical or mental illness or impairment, or disability

If you are using the social distancing of 1 metre, rather than 2 metre, then the players need to wear a face covering to provide a mitigating action to reduce the risk of transmission.

Catering Areas

  • Face Coverings are permitted to be removed when members are eating or drinking in designated seating areas e.g. restaurant and or bar.

Face coverings do not replace the need to social distance and maintain continued washing and or sanitising of hands.


Place hand sanitisers at the entrance, exit and in or outside the toilets and prominent places.

Signage to remind people to wash their hands.

Keep all internal doors open to limit the number of people touching the handles / push panels.

Fire doors will need to remain closed, unless they have a specific fire safety retainer fitted.

Implement a cleaning / disinfectant schedule pre, during and post opening.

In preparation of a member / visitor having coronavirus you should add to your plans what needs to occur as a result: -

  • Keep a list of names & contacts (GDPR compliant – please refer to the specific link in the key reference section) for 21 days which can be provided to NHS Track and Trace.
  • Closure of the facility until a ‘deep clean’, preferably by a specialist contractor, has been completed. Please refer to the specific link in the Key Reference Section.

Ventilation for the Bowling Green

Ventilation is an important part of mitigating against the transmission of COVID-19. Ventilation into the building should ensure a fresh air supply is provided to all areas of use.

The current design guidance notes (2005) for an Indoor Bowls hall states that this depends on the number of players and or the cooling need, but a rate of 12 litres per second per person is usually considered appropriate. E.g. 8 players per rink x 12 litres = 96 litres compared to 4 players per rink x 24 litres = 96 litres.

The Government, to mitigate the COVID-19 risk are recommending a 100% fresh air supply of 20 litres per person per second.

The fewer players on the rink the higher the fresh air supply will be.

Please check with your heating / air conditioning engineers or advisers to review your current installation.

The HSE advise that the risk of air conditioning spreading the coronavirus is very low. They do add that if you use a centralised ventilation system that removes and circulates air to different rooms it is recommended that you turn off recirculation and use fresh air supply.

You do not need to adjust other types of air conditioning systems.

The EIBA are still continuing discussions with key stakeholders in this matter for potential solutions, where Clubs current system do not provide fresh air. We will update all Clubs when appropriate information is available. If you have any queries, please contact the EIBA directly

  1. Operations

Rink Bookings

Based on the advised number of people who are allowed to play Sport at one time the Club need to implement a pre booking system – no casual walk ups permitted.

Use of on-line booking systems

Via email

Via phone

Or combination of.

This needs to be agreed and communicated to all members along with the timings of sessions, specified arrival time, how many times they can play in a week and timeframe for booking sessions e.g. one week in advance, 4 days in advance.

Keep a list of names & contacts (GDPR compliant – please refer to the specific link in the key reference section) for 21 days which can be provided to NHS Test and Trace.

Clubs are required to display Official NHS QR Code Posters, under law, for the NHS COVID-19 app. To create your unique venue poster please visit the following website address: -

Full details of the Government directive can be found here


All rink fees should ideally be paid by debit / credit cards. If this facility is not available, then investigate how it can be implemented. This could assist payments in the future.

Offer block booking option so the member pays in advance by card or cheque and does not have to deal with payment on the day. Helps social-distancing and removes the handling of cash issue.

E.g. purchase a book of hour session tickets, which are redeemed when playing, which lessens the number of transactions and can alleviate minimum card payment levels.

If not feasible then for cash payments, consider rounding up or down the rink fee to limit number of coins required and have a box at reception which the player can show the steward correct amount and deposit. This can be dealt with later by the staff / volunteer wearing disposable gloves.

There are a number of card payment options listed in the Key Reference Section, which you may wish to investigate, along with speaking to your bank.

Staff / Volunteers

The club has a duty of care to its staff and volunteers who will be in the building at the time. As such a risk assessment should be carried out on the people being asked to work and where they will be working: -

Distance between each working station – remove furniture to achieve and or have people working side by side or back to back but not face to face.

Provide appropriate hand sanitiser in the office / reception space.

Ensure the office space is well ventilated with fresh air.

Ask the personnel to wear a face covering when in the building and provide the appropriate PPE.

Investigate placing a Perspex shield at the reception desk, if no glass windows are in situ already.

When bar and catering staff are required, they are provided with face covering and disposable gloves. You have to keep their name and contact details for 21 days to comply with Test and Trace compliance.

Clearly define / allocate roles, what you are asking staff / volunteers to do and monitor effectiveness.

Document when staff / volunteer training has taken place along with who attended.

Playing the sport


Mats -                    They are disinfected before and after use – by club official or player

In multiple player games 1 person from each side e.g. lead nominated to use the mat

                              A policy of the mat having to be on the ‘T’

Jacks -                  They are disinfected before and after use – by club official or player

In multiple player games 1 person, e.g. skip from each side nominated to touch the jack.

                              If sufficient have 1 jack per side

                              Policy of no jack cast but placed by foot on the nominated length.

                              Implement re-spotting if jack is displaced towards the ditch / side rinks

Scoring -               Decide if rink scoreboards are to be used

                              If yes 1 player is nominated to operate it with hand sanitiser provided.

If no, use of scorecards only and players need to use own pen and place card in a bin at the end of the game.


All affiliated Indoor Bowls Clubs who have implemented COVID-19 secure protocols, based on the EIBA’s ‘Returning to Indoor Bowls’ guidance can continue to provide organised bowls sessions for members and visitors. However, from Thursday 24th September 2020 only up to 6 players per rink will be permitted. Multiple rinks in the club may be used, subject to appropriate social distancing measures, but players are not permitted to interact with the people on the next rink.

It is not permitted to replace any of the 6 players on the rink once the game has started.

The key areas to factor in deciding what format to be played are: -

  • Social distancing can be maintained
  • Implementation of robust hygiene procedures for the equipment, players to use their bowls only.

You could consider reducing the width of your rinks to allow more space for Social Distancing and people walking up and down the rink. Whilst COVID-19 secure procedures are required, the EIBA is happy for Clubs to reduce their rink widths to 4m, as per its National Competition Rules.

For any activity which is exclusively for Under 18s the rule of up to 6 does not apply but are subject to the COVID-19 secure protocols.

With regards to specific guidance on disability bowling we are in discussion with the Activity Alliance, British Wheelchair Bowling Association, Visually Impaired Bowls England, Disability Bowls England and of course DCMS, and making some progress in producing a generic COVID “Bowls with Disability” paper. If you have any immediate questions, please email

Single Play

With the dimensions of the rink and how the game is played this is the safest format to be played as distance between players can be easily maintained, across all rinks

Pairs Play

Again, the dimensions of the rink will allow 2 players at each end to have ample space between each other and those players on adjoining rinks.

Clubs may wish to place a suitable mark(s) on the green 2m distance from the ‘T’ to ensure the players can comply to the social distancing.

Consider a policy that all ‘Ts’ are moved up a further 1 or 2 metres to create more space for players behind the mat. (See appendix Three)

Triples Rink Play

The four people on or behind the ‘T’ can be at the 2m social distance, either with two off the rink and two on the rink.

For those Clubs who have a wall immediately at the end of the rink they should consider the moving of the ‘T’ to 4m from the ditch. (See appendix Three)

To help allow adjoining rinks to be used, if the club is unsure of the distance between the non-bowlers then operate an alternate start end system.

Fours Rink Play

Due to the Government directive of up to 6 people in a group this format is not permitted to take place, unless all players taking part in an exclusive Under 18 League or session.

Non-playing officials

The club to make a policy on whether umpires and or markers will be allowed.

If yes, they should be asked to wear an appropriate face covering and disposable gloves.

With regards to measuring the club makes a policy on whether this takes place during games and by whom.

At this time the EIBA recommend that any coaching is done on a 1:4 basis with the appropriate social distancing in place. We will continue to review this recommendation and advise of any change.

Alternate rink use

If the club deems it more appropriate or as a starting point to have bowls played, by their members’, then this option is the one which will enable Clubs to ensure social distancing is maintained whilst the games are underway.

Walking up and down the rink (see appendix Two)

The club to advise members that they should maintain the social distancing when they are changing ends. Have each team use a dedicated side of the rink, throughout the game.

Monitor how players manage this and Clubs may need to consider having an identifying mark(s) on each side of the ‘T’ to guide players.

The Players

Even though the club will have assessed and implemented plans to ensure the safety / wellbeing of everyone, the successful outcome will be influenced by the members who want to start bowling again.

The club needs to: -

  • Communicate its plans to all members, staff, committees etc.
  • Get the members acceptance to the plans when they book, if no then no booking allowed.
  • Advise / publicise that members who display symptoms should self-isolate as per Govt guidance.
  • Display prominently within the club key messages / statements on actions expected
  • Continually monitor / review how the plans are working
  • Advise members who aren’t complying that they need to or if not will not be allowed access
  • Listen to feedback / concerns from staff, volunteers and members.

Meetings / AGMs within the Indoor Bowls Club

The guidance is that meetings should ideally be held using remote working tools to avoid in-person meetings wherever possible.

If this is not possible then check your controlling document (Articles or Constitution) to see if there is flexibility in delaying the need to meet.

If it is deemed essential to meet, then the following procedures need to be implemented: -

  • The Club is a COVID-19 secure venue and has completed risk assessments.
  • The room for the Meeting / AGM can accommodate up to a maximum of 30 people with social distancing of 2m or (1m with the attendees wearing face coverings at all time). Ideally a fresh air flow is provided via open windows / doors.
  • Up to 6 people on any table.
  • Avoid sharing pens, documents and other objects
  • There is no social activity, only the business of the meeting, between the attendees.
  • All contact details of the attendees are recorded and held securely for 21 days so available to the Test and Trace programme
  • The current officers / staff are included in the maximum numbers and are not extra.
  • The meeting will be legal if the stated quorum is achieved by those in actual attendance and, if permitted by the controlling document, written proxies for Members that cannot attend.

If you have further queries or questions relating to forthcoming meetings, please contact the EIBA Head Office.

The future

We all want to see indoor bowls return to normal as soon as it can but only on terms which protects the health and wellbeing of everyone. But ultimately the final decision on whether the club stays closed or operates under these conditions, remains a CLUB decision.

The EIBA again would stress that due to the COVID-19 still being present in England, then the Government may and / or will change their decision on Indoor Bowls being allowed to be played, across the Country and / or in specific locations. As such if and when there are any amendments or new conditions, we will advise all Clubs as to what actions need to take place.

Key reference documents

Department of Culture, Media & Leisure -

Coronavirus (COVID-19) what has changed – 22nd September 2020

Guidance for Bars & Restaurants -

Guidance for Face Coverings

Section 7 of

NHS Test and Trace

GDPR – Contact Testing – protecting customer and visitor details

Health & Safety -

Risk Assessment                      


Hosting meetings -

Card machine options    -



24th September 2020

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Boston Indoor Club welcomes everyone with an interest in this fascinating sport and opens its doors to prospective members of all ages, abilities and agilities - from juniors to great-grandparents, from absolute beginners to national level players.

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