Return to Play message from the BSF

Thu 30 Jul 2020

A Message from the British Softball Federation Executive:

Many people will have seen the announcement by BaseballSoftballUK on Wednesday 29 July that the government has approved a Return to Play Plan for baseball and softball in England, and that games or training sessions with up to a maximum of 30 people can take place outdoors from 1 August – as long as they take place under the guidance and protocols set out in the Plan. 

BSUK's announcement can be read here and the full Return to Play Plan can be found here.   

BaseballSoftballUK has done an excellent job, in consultation with people from the softball and baseball communities, in putting together the Return to Play Plan and getting it approved for England and -- on 31 July -- for Wales (see below).  We hope and expect that approval for a return to play in Scotland will follow shortly: watch the BSUK website for announcements on this.

Please note that only outdoor softball activity is allowed at the present time.  BSUK will be hoping to get a Return to Play Plan for indoor softball approved by the autumn if the state of the pandemic at that time makes indoor sport feasible.
 

Take care!

But we want to introduce a cautionary note. 

Current government regulations now allow outdoor softball play or training with up to 30 people taking part on one field.  With no league competitions or tournaments this year, we expect most games will be locally organised pick-up games involving people from BSF member teams who are keen to play.  By following the requirements set out in the Return to Play Plan, you will be able to do this as safely as possible. 

But even if all the measures and protocols set out in the Plan are followed, safety cannot be guaranteed.  Participating in softball activity with the pandemic still at relatively high levels in the UK, and with local spikes always possible, has to be a considered personal choice.  As much as we all want to get back to playing, please think carefully before you do.
 

Key elements

There is a lot of information in the Return to Play Plan, and all of it is worth reading.  The Plan includes helpful templates and guidance for risk assessments and participant opt-ins and registration, as well as links to many other useful resources.  But in order for any softball activity to take place, here are the key things that must happen:

  1. Any game or other softball activity must follow all the relevant elements in the Participant Code of Conduct that is part of the Return to Play Plan and can be found here.
     
  2. For any organised game or activity, a Covid-19 Officer must be appointed for the event, and the date and place of the event and the name and contact details of the Covid-19 Officer must be notified beforehand to BSUK at: ReturnToPlay@bsuk.com.  The Covid-19 Officer might be a team captain, or the person organising a pick-up game or perhaps a League Committee member.  But no softball game or training activity can take place without one, and the name and contact details of the Covid-19 Officer should be notified to all participants before the event.
     
  3. The Covid-19 Officer for any game or session must ensure that the Participant Code of Conduct is followed throughout and – equally important – that the names and contact details for all participants are collected and kept for 21 days, then deleted.  This is so that track-and-trace can be put into effect if any participant later tests positive for Covid-19, and also so that collecting and keeping this information conforms to GDPR regulations.
     

Insurance

We have had a number of questions about insurance. 

Any game or softball activity that involves people from BSF member teams and adheres to the Participant Code of Conduct will be covered by the BSF’s Civil and Public Liability insurance.  This applies not only to teams that were affiliated to the BSF in 2019 but to any new teams formed this year that would have affiliated under normal circumstances.

But please note that any significant departure from the Code of Conduct, or a failure to collect and keep participant data for 21 days, will invalidate insurance cover.
 

Return to Play approved for Wales

BaseballSoftballUK was able to announce on Friday 31 July that softball can resume in Wales from 1 August under essentially the same rules and restrictions as in England.

Sport Wales has confirmed that they would not need to approve the Return to Play guidance approved by the DCMS for England, but simply asked softball and baseball in Wales to respect local Welsh Government and NHS Wales advice on social distancing, hygiene, travel etc.

Importantly, outdoor team sports for up to 30 participants are permitted and there are no restrictions that are more onerous than in England.

The Return to Play hub on the BSUK website and all relevant documentation have been all been updated.  

Cardiff Softball League Head Dave McCarthy said, "The Cardiff Softball League is thrilled to announce the return to play in Wales, following weeks of hard work and negotiation between BSUK, Sports Wales and League representatives.  These plans allow scores of dedicated softballers the chance to enjoy the summer and the inclusive sport that's captivated the hearts of men and women of all ages all across the Welsh capital and beyond."
 

Local lockdowns

With regard to new local restrictions that have been imposed in different parts of the country, Government advice will always supersede softball plans, and if local regulations mean that gatherings of up to 30 people are no longer allowed, then softball cannot be played.  BaseballSoftballUK will not be issuing revisions to Return to Play guidance each time a lockdown comes into effect or is removed; people simply need to comply with local restrictions.
 

Stay safe!

For more details and information on all of the above, please read the full Return to Play Plan, and if you have questions, send them to ReturnToPlay@bsuk.com

The BSF Executive is aware that a lot of people will welcome the chance to play some softball in 2020, and if this happens, we hope it will be enjoyable and safe.  If you choose to participate, please take responsibility for ensuring the activity is as safe as it can be.

Meanwhile, the BSF is looking forward to, and planning for, what we hope will be a much more normal summer of softball competition in 2021, even if some Covid-19 safety protocols may still have to be in effect even then.
 

Best wishes and stay safe!
The BSF Executive

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