COVID-19: Additional Guidance for Lawn Bowls

3rd August, 2020

We’re delighted so many clubs are back up and running. Not only have existing bowlers returned, but we’ve also heard fantastic stories of many new people giving our sport a go for the first time

We understand the challenges you have faced this summer, and we have been providing regular updates to ensure that clubs and players have been able to return to the green in a Covid-friendly manner.

We are therefore pleased to issue the latest update to our guidance following receipt of additional information for the sport sector.

We recommend that all clubs consider this document together with the Government guidance. All items may be adapted as necessary to meet your club’s specific circumstances, so long as your actions remain consistent with Government advice and social distancing requirements.

This is applicable from Saturday 1st August and replaces all other guidance that we have issued.

There is still plenty of the season left to enjoy and we are excited by the opportunity of encouraging new people into our sport.



Support Bubble
Single adult households are now able to form a support bubble with one other household. If you live by yourself or are a single parent with dependant children – in other words, if there is only one adult in your home – you can expand your close support network so that it includes one other household of any size. This is called making a ‘support bubble’ and means you are able to have close contact with them as you could if they were members of your own household. Once you are in a support bubble, you can think of yourself as in a single household. For the purposes of this guidance, all references to ‘households’ also include their support bubble.

Symptomatic/NHS Test and Trace
If you are symptomatic or living in a household with someone else who has a possible or confirmed COVID-19 infection you should remain at home and you should not have visitors to your household. If you have been asked to isolate by NHS Test and Trace because you are a contact of a known COVID-19 case, do not exercise outside your own home or garden and do not exercise with others; you can spread the virus to others even if you never get symptoms.

Shielding – Changes from 1 August
From 1 August, the government will pause shielding unless the transmission of COVID-19 in the community starts to rise significantly. This means the government will no longer be advising you to shield. You may still be at risk of severe illness if you catch coronavirus, so stay at home as much as you can and continue to take precautions when you do go out. You can do this by washing your hands regularly, avoiding touching your face and keeping 2 metres away from people outside of your household or bubble wherever possible.

Local restrictions
This guidance applies to England. You should always consider whether there are local restrictions in place in your area. If you live, work or volunteer in an area that is experiencing a local COVID-19 outbreak and where local restrictions have been imposed, different guidance and legislation will apply. Please consult the local restrictions pages to see if any restrictions are in place in your area.

Crown Green, Indoor and Short Mat Bowls
We are the National Governing Body for flat green outdoor bowls. The British Crown Green Bowling Association, English Indoor Bowling Association and English Short Mat Bowling Association have produced separate advice for their affiliated clubs. Please refer to their websites for specific information.



Social distancing
Social distancing guidelines should be followed between people from different households wherever possible. This means a distance of 2m between people from different households, or 1m plus mitigations (such as face coverings or avoiding face-to-face contact) where 2m is not possible. We recommend that players maintain social distancing of 2m.

Face masks
There is no current requirement from the Government for face masks to be worn whilst participating in sport and physical activity outdoors. Clubs may consider the use of face masks as part of their risk assessment if they determine that 2m social distancing is not possible.

Hand sanitise at regular intervals, especially if you have to touch communal surfaces or equipment. Once you are home, remember to wash your hands thoroughly.

Try to avoid using shared equipment whenever possible. If you are sharing equipment, for example jacks/mats, practise strict hand hygiene. Should measuring be necessary, players (or marker if used) must use their own measure.

The following items can be utilised during any session:

  • Mat
  • Bowls
  • Jack
  • Rink markers
  • Gloves
  • Scorecards (these should be retained by one person only if required)
  • Bowling arm/lifter (for use by one person only if required)
  • Bowling aids (for players with a disability if required)

The following items are deemed optional – it is for individual clubs to permit their use or otherwise:

  • Scoreboards
  • Bowls pushers
  • Ditch markers
  • 2m distance sticks
  • Chalk (Spray chalk only)

Travelling for bowls
You can travel, however you should not travel in a small motor vehicle with someone from outside your household (for example you should not give a lift to any players from outside your household nor accept one). You should also consider all other forms of transport before using public transport.



Use of rinks and format of play
Bowls England recommends the following formats of play:

  • Singles or Pairs – clubs may use every available rink
  • Triples or Fours – alternate rinks (clubs may give consideration to the creation of additional space between rinks to create room for social distancing e.g. four rinks laid out for play with half-rink between on an average six rink green)

Our previous guidance advised that the total number of people on club premises be capped at 30 and take into account players/spectators and volunteers. While the regulations do now permit larger gatherings in covid secure venues, clubs must ensure that distinct groups of no more than six people and social distancing are maintained (part of the covid secure requirements). It is for individual clubs to determine how they wish to operate within these requirements.

Spectators are permitted within bowls clubs. It is for each club to determine how many spectators are permitted while still ensuring everyone can remain socially distanced. Spectators must not be in groups of more than six from different households within the wider space, as per public health guidance.

Committee Meetings/Annual General Meetings
The Government has issued guidance to enable organisations to comply with legal requirements on holding Annual General Meetings (AGMs) and other meetings while keeping their and members safe. Sport specific guidance on organising virtual meetings, including Committee Meetings and AGMs, is available from Sport England Club Matters.

Club Nights and Competitions
The government has confirmed that club nights and competitions can now restart, provided that clubs follow published guidance.

Changing Rooms/Toilets
Indoor facilities, apart from toilets and throughways, should be closed. When accessing and leaving toilets you should wipe down areas of contact, wash hands thoroughly, use paper towels where possible and avoid touching any surfaces in transit. Where clubs deem changing facilities necessary, they must set clear guidance on use, ensure they are kept clean, clear of personal items and that social distancing is adhered to.

Bars and Restaurants
We welcomed the easing of restrictions that the Government announced with regard to bars and restaurants, and this has enabled members to gain refreshment after their game of bowls and clubs to generate much-needed income. We released a checklist for clubs on the re-opening of bars and restaurants as part of our ‘Back2Bowls’ guidance.

If bar/catering facilities are open respect social distancing whilst queuing for food and drink. Ensure clear signage is in place so people can find their destination quickly. Look at how people walk through your club and consider how you could adjust this to reduce congestion and contact. For example, queue management or one-way flow, where possible. Using outside premises for queuing where available and safe, for example car parks.

Do not share food items, cups, plates or eating utensils with anyone else. Consider mandating contactless or at least card payment, to avoid handling cash. Ensure social distancing between customers and servers when food or drink is handed over, and consider using screens.

Communicating clearly and consistently
Communicate clearly and regularly with members to set out what you are doing to manage risk, and what advice you are giving to individuals to do likewise.

NHS Test and Trace
You should assist this service by keeping a temporary record of all visitors to your club for 21 days, in a way that is manageable for your club, and assist NHS Test and Trace with requests for that information if needed. This could help contain clusters or outbreaks.

Flexibility and innovation
Clubs should be ready to strengthen or relax measures at short notice (for example in the case of a ‘local lockdown’). Clubs are encouraged to think creatively about how best to organise bowls within the guidelines. We will continue to share examples of good practice over the coming weeks.

Keeping members and visitors safe
The Government has published guidance to help workplaces operate as safely as possible. You should refer to this guidance. Relevant points are:

  • Carry out a COVID-19 risk assessment
  • Maintain social distancing by re-designing spaces or by opening more entrances and exits
  • Reinforce cleaning processes, cleaning more frequently and paying close attention to high-contact objects like door handles and keyboards
  • Provide clear guidance on social distancing and hygiene to visitors on arrival; for example, signage and visual aids

Keeping facilities and equipment clean
Cleaning protocols should be put in place to limit coronavirus transmission in public places. Touch points (e.g. handrails and gates) should be particular areas of focus for increased cleaning.

Maintaining hygiene, through handwashing, sanitisation facilities and toilets
To help everyone maintain good hygiene, consideration should be given to the following items:
• Using signs and posters to build awareness of good handwashing technique, the need to increase handwashing frequency, avoid touching your face and to cough or sneeze into your arm. Consider how to ensure safety messages reach those with hearing or vision impairments

  • Providing regular reminders and signage to maintain hygiene standards
  • Providing hand sanitiser in multiple locations in addition to washrooms
  • Setting clear use and cleaning guidance for toilets to ensure they are kept clean and social distancing is achieved
  • Enhancing cleaning for busy areas
  • Providing more waste facilities and more frequent rubbish collection
  • Using disposable paper towels in handwashing facilities where possible
  • Minimising use of portable toilets
  • Provision of automated hand sanitising dispensers in public places

If you have any questions, please e-mail: We are here to help and we will endeavour to respond within three working days.



Coronavirus Guidance

Sport England – ‘How we can help’
Club Matters (Club resources including reopening toolkit, risk assessment and social distancing guide)

General guidance

Guidance on the phased return of sport and recreation

Working safely during coronavirus (COVID-19)

Reopening and adapting your food business during COVID-19

Forgot your password?