• Governing our Sport

New Guidance To Help Manage Covid Within Hockey

It was confirmed by Government that from 19 July, in England, most of the legal restrictions relating to Covid-19 would end. As a result of this England Hockey are now releasing new guidance, Managing Covid within Hockey, that conforms with Step 4 of the Government roadmap out of lockdown and is applicable to all hockey activity from 19 July. 

The easing of restrictions has seen an end to previous legal gathering limits and the requirement for social distancing. This confirms that there are no longer any limits on the number of people that can participate in, and spectate, hockey, both indoors and outdoors.  It also removes the limitations on changing rooms, clubhouses, hospitality and domestic travel. 

Although a lot of the previous measures put in place to keep us safe are no longer required by law, England Hockey would like to see a continuation of much of the good practice that clubs and the community have implemented over the past year to help everyone keep returning with confidence. The Government are also emphasising the need for caution as we continue to ease out of lockdown. 

So what is in the updated guidance? 

Still required by England Hockey 

  • England Hockey still require all clubs and organisations to have a registered Covid Officer 

No longer required by England Hockey 

  • Participants needing to sign a participation agreement 

England Hockey recommended good practice - guidance here - the main headlines as follows: 

  • Attendance registers (however, they no longer need to be submitted to England Hockey) 
  • Covid specific risk assessments 
  • Following the Planning Safe Hockey guide 

Government guidance - guidance here - the main headlines as follows: 

  • Self-assessment for Covid-19 symptoms before participating 
  • Informed decisions and self-isolation 
  • NHS Test and Trace 

Whilst it’s positive that restrictions are lifting, with case rates high we know that there is nervousness about returning. A recent Sport England survey found that: 

  • In June 2021, 60% of people say they are worried about the risk of the virus to themselves and 77% are worried about the risk to the country as a whole  
  • 56% of people with a health condition are still worried about leaving the house to be active 
  • Only a quarter of Britons expect life to return to ‘normal’ within 2021 

This needs to be considered by everyone involved in hockey activity as there will be different expectations and levels of comfort amongst different groups. 

The full guidance document, Managing Covid within Hockey, is available via the updated Covid Support page, which also includes the latest FAQs and related resources and news. 

England Hockey would like to thank everyone from Covid Officers to volunteers and from coaches to players and officials, for the part they have played in responding to the pandemic so far. We ask that everyone continues to take on personal and collective responsibility to apply the guidance, be respectful of others, stay safe and most of all, enjoy being back on the pitch! 

Updated release (15.07.2021) 

Earlier this week the Government confirmed that from Monday 19 July, England will move to Step 4 of the roadmap out of lockdown. While we understand that this will see an end to most current legal restrictions, we are working with DCMS and Sport England to understand what this means for sport. 

Once the sport guidance is released by Government, we will be able to update our hockey specific guidance to help support the grassroots game through the next stages. We appreciate your patience whilst this documentation comes together. 

Until Monday 19 July the current Return to Play guidance found on our Covid Support page here, is still applicable and should be followed. We will provide a clearer update on the next steps as soon as we are able. 

Updated release (17.06.2021)  

The Government have confirmed that there will be a four week pause at Step 3 of their roadmap out of lockdown, in England. It was thought that further easing of the current set of restrictions may be possible from 21 June. However, it is now not likely that a move to Step 4 of the Government roadmap will happen before 19 July. 

England Hockey have continued to work with Sport England and DCMS throughout and can confirm that no changes will be made to our hockey specific Return to Play guidance. The guidance that everyone has been following since our last update will remain in place for the coming weeks. 

We have also had it confirmed that there is no need for any change to the sport guidance in places where the ‘Delta’ variant is spreading fastest. As has been our approach throughout this pandemic, no one is obligated to play. The choice on whether to participate is that of individuals and teams. For more information, refer to our FAQ on this topic, here

We request that as custodians of our sport, we all continue to remain compliant in following the guidance as issued and available. We do not anticipate any further changes to our guidance before 19 July and will continue to communicate any updates via our channels. 

Updated release (14.05.2021) 

Following the announcement that the UK will move to Step 3 of the Government Roadmap from 17 May, England Hockey can confirm that further changes will be permitted to our sport-specific guidance from next Monday. 

As a result of the latest changes, we can announce that from Monday 17 May we will be moving to Step 5 of our Return to Play Roadmap – Step 5; Full competitive match play, leagues and competitions resume. This means that our revised Championships offer will go ahead as planned and league play-offs, where undecided, can be concluded. 

This is largely because travel restrictions are expected to ease further to allow car sharing between people from different household groups. We recommend that best practice is followed in line with the Government Safer Travel guidance

Indoor hockey can also return for adult participants. Indoor sport is exempt from social distancing and gathering limits but, like the outdoor version, only during play. Also, so long as indoor facility capacity restrictions are followed (100 sq. ft per person). This means that standard indoor hockey matches are allowed. 

Changing rooms, although allowed to open, should be avoided or use kept to a minimum where possible. Players are still advised to arrive changed and shower at home. 

Spectators are now permitted in all outdoor and indoor settings regardless of whether the facility is on public or private land. Social distancing rules and social gathering limits for each setting must be followed at all times – discrete groups of 30 outdoors and groups of six or two households indoors. There is an additional measure for indoors, where the total number of people is limited by the indoor facility capacity restrictions (100 sq. ft per person). This number includes all participants, coaches, officials and spectators. 

Hospitality is now allowed to be served indoors as well as outdoors. Social distancing rules and social gathering limits apply to each setting and seated table service remains compulsory in all settings. 

Clubhouses can once again open their doors, adhering to social distancing rules and social gathering limits. These spaces should be managed carefully, taking into consideration capacities, flows and circulation of fresh air. 

There is also good news for Flyerz activity with confirmation that players of all abilities can once again mix and participate in sporting activity together. 

Our FAQs have been updated with more specific details here. We will continue to review and add to these as necessary. 

We ask that everyone keeps following the latest guidance available so that hockey can continue to be played in a safe and responsible environment for all involved. 

We do not anticipate any further changes to the guidance until Step 4 of the Governments roadmap, no earlier than 21 June. 

Updated release (09.04.2021) 

Following confirmation that the UK can move to Step 2 of the Governments Roadmap from 12 April, England Hockey can confirm that some small changes will be permitted to our sport specific guidance from next Monday. 

Changing rooms can be used from 12 April, but we advise they are avoided, or their use is minimised as much as possible. 

As expected, outdoor seated hospitality will be allowed, and takeaway services can continue. Organised indoor hockey will be permitted for Juniors (Under 18s). Adults cannot play indoor hockey, except as a single household or support bubble group at this stage. 

One change that comes in immediately is around spectators. Although not encouraged, spectators are permitted on public land (e.g parks but not private sports clubs) and must follow legal gathering limits and social distancing rules. The exemption for disabled athletes and safeguarding of juniors still stands in all other settings. 

Further to our update earlier this week, it has now been confirmed that disabled access to sport is considered an exempt reason for car sharing. Other than this or sharing with members of your household or support bubble, car sharing is still not permitted for sport. 

We recommend everyone keeps following the guidance so that hockey can continue to be played in a safe environment. We are encouraged by the positive comments received from those picking up a stick so far and want everyone to enjoy being back on a pitch safely and responsibly this summer. 

Our FAQs have been updated with more detail here. We will continue to review and add to these as necessary. 

We do not expect to see any further changes to the guidance until Step 3 of the Governments Roadmap, from the 17 May. 

Updated release (07.04.2021) 

Following further clarity from DCMS and the Department for Transport, England Hockey can confirm that sport is not an exempt reason for car sharing by individuals not in the same household or support bubble. 

Car sharing now is not expected to be permitted for sport until at least Step 3 of the Governments Roadmap, no earlier than 17 May. 

With travel being such an important part of making competition accessible and inclusive for so many, England Hockey recommends that Step 4 of our original Covid-19 Roadmap continues to be followed. We will review this position and are hopeful of transitioning to Step 5 to coincide with the further easing of travel restrictions. 

In the meantime, training and local friendlies can continue in line with our full guidance. We have been delighted to see so many picking up a stick and returning to play in a safe and responsible way. 

The next Step of the Governments Roadmap takes affect from 12 April. England Hockey will review the guidance for any changes that may be possible to implement from next week. We will continue to update our FAQs

Original release (25.03.2021) 

As the government roadmap out of lockdown progresses and the official guidance for grassroots sport is now available, we can now confirm more details of the Return to Play plans for hockey.

England Hockey’s full guidance has been simplified where possible and should be used by Covid Officers and key role holders at clubs and organisations alongside the wider supporting guides for specific roles in hockey as well as the supporting infographics and FAQs. This is all available on the Covid Support page of our website, which will be regularly updated.

The good news is that hockey can return from 29 March straight to the ‘Play - Step 4’ phase of our original Covid-19 roadmap. This allows local hockey to take place including activities like summer leagues or local matches.

We recognise that not all players will be ready to return straight away and we encourage all providers to ensure that their processes, communication and behaviours all contribute to creating places that all players can be comfortable participating within. Further to the briefings held last week England Hockey encourages the focus to be on safe, fun and friendly activity initially to support welcoming people back.

As the roadmap progresses over the coming weeks, restrictions are expected to lift, and the extent of activity clubs can offer will extend. These are mostly related to issues outside of play such as hospitality and changing rooms. As of the 25 March we are still waiting for the government safer travel advice to be updated that will inform on travel issues such as car sharing.

The updated government advice means it is now possible to undertake the following activity. England Hockey expects that all involved in any activity will follow the guidance.

Outdoor hockey can resume from 29 March:

  • Training can start once organisers ensure all guidance is in place.
  • England Hockey recommends a maximum of 30 people in any one group, but more than one group can use a pitch as long as social distancing can be maintained outside of play and between the groups.
  • Matches (both 11-a-side and small sided) can resume once organisers can ensure all guidance is in place. Multiple matches can take place at the same venue as long as social distancing can be maintained between groups outside of matches.

England Hockey will continue to follow government and Public Health England advice. Timings of any changes to the circumstances for hockey will always be led by government advice during the Covid-19 restrictions.

Whilst these are now significant steps forward in terms of returning to play, we would encourage everyone to firstly consider the health of themselves and others as they return to play.

 If you have any issues or questions regarding the guidance please read our FAQs or contact clubs@englandhockey.co.uk.