The latest government guidelines on outdoor sport will allow the return of both softball league games and tournaments from as early as 29 March in England, with no restrictions on the number of participants or on the distance travelled to take part.
Indoor activity for children, disabled people and elite sportspeople such as national team players is also permitted in England from that date.
Regulations for Scotland and Wales are different, as detailed below.
All this assumes that there is no worsening of the Covid situation and no changes to the timing for easing lockdown in any or all of the three Home Countries.
Return to Play Plan
BaseballSoftballUK, which has negotiated with the government on regulations, has updated its Return to Play Plan on the BSUK website.
The Plan lays out actionable and proportionate guidance intended to keep softball safe and compliant for all as play resumes, and it focuses on the first of the four milestones in the England roadmap starting from 29 March, with further iterations to follow once known.
Everyone intending to play softball this season and/or organise softball events should read the guidance so we can keep one another safe.
The updated Plan has no mandatory changes to how softball is played on the field; instead, the guidance focuses on simple measures to be taken around social distancing, hygiene and good administration. These include:
- Game-specific modifications – considerations before, during and after play.
- Risk assessments – what to consider when planning softball activity.
- Participant registration – keeping an attendance record.
- The Covid-19 Officer role – focused on health and safety.
- Participant Code of Conduct – a quick guide to what is expected from those taking part.
Scotland and Wales
In Scotland, organised outdoor sport for up to 30 people in a ‘field of play bubble’ will be permitted from 29 March, but with local travel restrictions in effect.
In Wales, organised outdoor sport can only take place based on a single household or support bubble, with a maximum of four people permitted and local travel restrictions in effect until 27 March. But there are no participant limits for children aged 11 and under.
All activity in England, Scotland and Wales must be formally organised and conducted under government-approved guidance -- that is to say, adhering to the protocols within BaseballSoftballUK’s Return to Play Plan.
BSUK’s Return to Play Plan was developed last year in consultation with a cross-section of players, umpires and administrators from the softball and baseball communities. The Plan was then presented to government departments including Sport England, sportScotland, and Sport Wales and the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport for review and approval.
Guidance was first issued in July 2020 and the latest Plan is Version 11, indicating the extent to which regulations have continued to change.
New updates will be issued in line with the further steps in the government roadmap for England: 12 April (Step 2), 17 May (Step 3) and finally 21 June (Step 4), when all restrictions are due to be lifted.
Updates will also reflect relevant elements of the Scottish roadmap (2, 5 and 26 April, 17 May, and early/end June) as well as Welsh regulations.
While the hope is that the easing of restrictions will remain on a steady trajectory, the Covid situation and the roadmaps will remain subject to change at short notice. Everyone should keep themselves updated through regular trusted channels and remember that local and national government guidance supersedes any advice provided by BaseballSoftballUK.
Keep coming back to the BaseballSoftballUK Return to Play online hub for all the latest information.