The Chairman of the UK Parliament’s All-Party Parliamentary Group (APPG), Lincoln MP Karl McCartney, has today submitted to the Sports Minister proposals for the re-opening of snooker clubs.
The proposals incorporate guidance for club owners and staff to be able to operate as sporting facilities by providing a safe and controlled environment for all.
Since the UK government placed the country into ‘lockdown’ on 23 March to limit the spread of the COVID-19 virus we have maintained regular communication with a number of our affiliated clubs, hosting an online forum to help us to identify the key issues currently facing club owners during this unprecedented crisis.
In parallel with these proposals for the opening of clubs to the public, we are today also able to provide further guidance to our professional players based in the UK.
Step 1 – Professional Players’ Return to Work
We are acutely aware of the impact of the current closure of clubs and academies upon our professional players, many of whom have been unable to practice without access to their facilities.
Earlier this week plans were announced by the UK government for the easing of some restrictions over the coming weeks, which will allow some sporting activity to resume. This included the government advice document titled ‘Our plan to rebuild: The UK Government’s COVID-19 recovery strategy’ which states that:
“All workers who cannot work from home should travel to work if their workplace is open.”
Having carefully considered this government advice we are today able to advise WST professional players only that they can now return to their practice facilities if specified conditions are met. These conditions are clearly set out HERE.
The place of work of a professional snooker player is not only at events. It is also where their practice table is based for training purposes. It is essential that players to have access to training facilities before returning to professional tournament play.
Snooker is no different to other professional sports and professional snooker players are no different to other athletes in this respect. Return to professional competition or approved online activity is essential for professional players to earn a living.
Should any players have any questions or concerns please contact WPBSA Player Relations Manager Neil Tomkins who will be able to provide further advice.
Step 2 – Re-Opening of Clubs to General Public
We are actively engaging with Parliament through the APPG to demonstrate how snooker can be played safely and responsibly by recreational and amateur players whilst adhering to current social distancing rules.
Key proposals include (but are not limited to) the following:
- Regular cleaning of venues on a daily basis
- Hand sanitiser to be provided at all tables, entrances and toilets
- Regular cleaning of equipment after every customer
- Staff to wear masks and gloves
- Limited entry to venues / reduced opening hours
- Social distancing measures including clear signage for customer flow to/from tables to be observed
- Closure of bar areas with limited table service/takeaway food options to be provided
- Player guidance to avoid unnecessary sharing of equipment and interaction
- Should any club be found to be in breach of guidance provided they would be liable to closure by the relevant authorities.
It is hoped that that through the strict introduction of such measures it will be possible to re-open snooker clubs to the public in a safe and sustainable manner.
WPBSA Chairman Jason Ferguson said: “The unprecedented global situation that exists has had a profound effect upon us all and of course snooker has not been able to escape the reality that we currently find ourselves in.
“Our message to everyone connected with snooker however is that the WPBSA is there for you and are working hard to be able to restart our sport – at all levels – as soon as it is safe and appropriate to do so. This will not be without its challenges, but through the measures submitted to Parliament today we are confident that the wider public will be able to access our sport’s facilities and will remain proactive until this is achieved.”
“We are further grateful for the support provided to us by the APPG which has worked with us closely during this process.”
Following the submission of our proposals to Parliament both the WPBSA and the APPG will maintain dialogue with the government and its relevant authorities to secure the full re-opening of snooker venues as soon as possible.
At the time of writing however, we would remind all UK clubs that they must follow all laws and guidance published by the government at its website: https://www.gov.uk/coronavirus