It was only a few days ago that we were compiling a comprehensive list of Tier 3 guidance to help clubs in specific areas of England understand whether or not they would need to stop teaching. Unfortunately this evening we are sharing guidelines which will have a much more grim effect across the entirety of England, compounding on the many hundreds of clubs we have already on lockdown in the devolved nations.
Following Boris Johnson’s announcement that England will go into a full lockdown from Thursday 5 November until Wednesday 2 December official Government guidance has now been released. There is missing depth in some areas with obvious contradictions on other Government sources that are yet to be updated, but it is an important source of official information.
Our Position, And An Important Caveat
We know that BMABA are having to fulfil the role of the messenger at the moment. Government Guidance and Sport England is not sufficiently clear for our industry and quite often it has fallen on us to relay what has been in a majority of cases, negative news. Let’s be clear – we emphatically believe martial arts should be named as a specific sport (and not lumped into ‘indoor activity, gyms or personal trainers’ – depending on the piece of guidance). We also believe without question that the physical, mental and social benefits martial arts provides to local communities far, far outweighs the very limited risk of transmitting COVID in a socially distanced class. Our return to play has been passed on DCMS via our MP and we are pushing to have this reviewed so we can permit pad work and other partner based work at club level. Again, this is something we emphatically believe should happen and something we know can be safely managed by our clubs. Whenever we bring news that is inherently negative, please be assured it is through gritted teeth and is delivered with immeasurably frustration. Already during Covid we have shelled out more than £100,000 in losses to keep what we provide as affordable and subsidised as possible. We are truly in your corner. Unfortunately, we can’t and won’t provide false promises or ‘loopholes’ to help clubs try and teach on a technicality. We want you back as quickly as possible but it wouldn’t be a fair or responsible thing for us to do, especially if it landed your club with a fine and – worse – led to somebody becoming unwell with Coronavirus.
As with all the guidance we’ve issued on Covid matters, please, please double check our workings against your own information sources. We research as much as possible in as much depth as we can with our in-house policy expert but this is not a science. Information is often contradictory with even Government sources not always updated on time. Your local, individual situation may differ slightly and this might mean you can do something that we are advising, on balance, shouldn’t be done. The same may also work in reverse. Take responsibility and time to read the guidance yourself. If you’re not sure what it means or think you have spotted something we have missed, please do get in touch. Please remember that we are trying to issue broad guidance that covers 150 styles across 30,000 members throughout the United Kingdom so it is not always possible to do this on a ‘one size fits all’ approach.
Social Media & Info Snippets
Over the past 24 hours we have received dozens of links to social media posts claiming martial arts can continue through dozens of elaborate loopholes. We have also received lots of screen grabs of conversations and letters claiming martial arts is exempt. Unfortunately we haven’t been able to find anything that overrides the official guidance referenced below. Alot of snippets we are being sent are out of date and therefore ‘nil and void’. There’s also lots of screengrabs and social media posts based on one area of guidance. This type of thing often fails to assess other local or national policies that may have a mitigating effect on the guidance clubs are leaning on. This isn’t to say anything or everything is going to be false. It’s just a warning to be…
Checking With Your Local Authority
Like most things, the best thing to do when it comes to confirming Government guidance on a local level is to speak with your local authority. We have heard many cases of councils and authorities getting the guidance wrong, failing to grasp DCMS classifications or outright being difficult. Whilst this may be an occurrence for some clubs, alot of instructors do find councils will point you toward their ‘guiding legislation’ on…
New Government Guidance
New Government Guidance on the second lockdown, scheduled in England for Thursday 5th November to Wednesday 2nd December has been released. The link to the direct, full guidance is given at the bottom of this article. We would strongly recommend you read it in full.
What does it say about sports and martial arts?
Unfortunately (but not surprisingly) martial arts is not named. We’re jumping the gun a little as Sport England are yet to reflect on the latest set of measures being imposed by lockdown but we are keen to try and press on through the guidelines sooner rather than later, as we know you will have endless amounts of planning (and worry) to contend with.
There are a few select passages on sport & recreation worth reviewing. Let’s take a look;
Indoor and outdoor leisure facilities such as bowling alleys, leisure centres and gyms, sports facilities including swimming pools, golf courses and driving ranges, dance studios, stables and riding centres, soft play facilities, climbing walls and climbing centres, archery and shooting ranges, water and theme parks.
[you] must not leave or be outside of your home except for specific purposes. These include: to exercise outdoors or visit an outdoor public place – with the people you live with, with your support bubble or, when on your own, with 1 person from another household (children under school age, as well as those dependent on round-the-clock care, such as those with severe disabilities, who are with their parents will not count towards the limit on two people meeting outside).
Unfortunately it appears there is no concession for indoor sports or fitness classes to continue, and this would appear to be the case for under 18s too. The list of facilities forced to close appears to be fairly comprehensive. There does appear to be…
FAQs & Summary
Unfortunately, it appears almost certain that martial arts will be forced to suspend teaching in person along with whole of the sports sector. There is the very slight possibility that in The Commons on Wednesday, MPs will force exceptions or exemptions for sport but this appears to be very unlikely. For now, you will need to sit tight and – as we always say – ‘plan for the worst, hope for the best’. As soon as there is an official, explicit position from MPs we will provide this for clarity.
Can I teach students on a one to one basis outdoors?
The guidance does appear to suggest you can meet up with one other person from outside of your household, outdoors, on a socially distanced basis, for exercise. Unfortunately it’s not clear whether or not this is on a purely socially-fitness basis whether commercial provisions would also be permitted. The guidance does mention ‘if you are on your own’ which would appear to lean toward the notion that you may meet one other person outside of your household for fitness if it is on a social/isolation basis. As the guidelines force most businesses to suspend their services, a very large question mark…
Can I teach online lessons again?
Yes, absolutely and we would recommend this fully. We will (hopefully) be in this for a fairly short period of a few weeks and, depending on the Tier system your regions exits onto, we would love to see you bring students back into the dojo in the run up to Christmas. In the interim, keep them hooked. Create pre-recorded content, introduce weekly challenges and run live Zoom lessons. The more you do, the better.
Can I teach children’s classes if schools are remaining open?
It’s a good question, and one that doesn’t appear to have an answer at the moment. It’s unlikely to be permitted. The guidance is quite explicit that pretty much the entire fitness industry should suspend activities. We know – the fitter you are, the more likely you are to beat Covid! Unfortunately it seems highly unlikely…
What happens with martial arts when lockdown ends?
In England, regions should be returned to the Tier system under which, in all but the worst of infection rates, martial arts classes can resume indoors so there should be classes before Christmas. For our clubs in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland we are providing specific and tailored guidance as…
What will BMABA do next?
First things first, we are watching 24 news feeds, alongside all government sources to confirm the ‘final’ outcome for martial arts ahead of lockdown. We don’t expect any major shifts in policy (although we always keep our fingers crossed) but we will keep you updated via social media and our member’s area.
Secondly, we will remain open throughout lockdown with a 7 day a week service. This includes us bringing out dozens of new tools and features to make BMABA membership more comprehensive than ever before. We will stand by you, and petition the Government to allow a ‘return to game’ which includes padwork and partner work as an absolute priority.
“What help can BMABA provide my club over the coming months?”
We can confidently say there is no other martial arts association in the UK that has done anywhere near as much as BMABA in supporting, guiding and protecting our clubs during lockdown. Naturally, this proactive and industry-first approach will continue throughout recovery through to the end of next year when we anticipate the potential of martial arts being back to pre-Covid conditions.
Everything from a free Covid-Aware martial arts instructor qualification and Covid-Policy through to marketing material, council liaison services, risk assessments, covid and hygiene equipment, club communications, subsidised insurances, free qualifications and courses, business support, covid-recovery toolkits and so, so much more. Our guidance on evolving regulation and easing of lockdown measures is properly curated and managed for accuracy, and we’re working across our extensive group of not for profit organisations to make it easier and more affordable than ever to keep your club alive during lockdown, and thriving when you can safely re-open.