The changes to Government guidance is coming at us all thick-and-fast. It was only last week we were told martial arts would not be returning along with gyms and fitness classes. There was then a temporary glimmer of hope, only to be extinguished very recently again.
We now have a revised piece of guidance from Government released today relevant only to England. It’s not aimed at martial arts (we’ve received zero guidance so far) but instead parents and carers of children attending out-of-school settings. This is effectively afterschool and holiday camp clubs.
What Does The New Guidance Say?
The guidance effectively tells parents and carers that ‘out-of-school settings’ clubs will be available throughout the summer holidays. The guidance is not specific to martial arts, nor any sports generally, but provides very broad advice for parents who may want to consider after school clubs or holiday clubs for their children.
What Does It Say On Clubs?
Good question. Here’s the full relevant paragraphs, highlighted to help with finding the key lines;
As the Prime Minister confirmed in his announcement on 23 June, providers who run community activities, holiday clubs, after-school clubs, tuition and other out-of-school provision for children will be able to operate over the summer holiday with safety measures in place. Adjustments to the current measures for these providers are part of Step 3 of the government’s recovery strategy (from 4 July). Children will be able to attend settings such as tuition and learning centres, extracurricular clubs (such as ballet classes, gymnastics training, football coaching), uniformed youth organisations (such as Scouts and Guides), supplementary schools, private language schools and religious settings offering education (for example madrassahs, yeshivas, and Sunday schools).
Before the end of the summer term, while state schools in your local area are open, providers will only be able to operate for children from the eligible and priority groups; these are vulnerable children, children of critical workers and select year groups (early years, reception, year 1 and year 6). However, during the summer holiday period these settings can open to all children, provided they put in place the appropriate protective measures.
So For Martial Arts?
The best that we can tell from the guidance, martial arts should be able to resume teaching excruciatingly limited groups of specific children (from reception and years 1 and 6, who are in school as a vulnerable child or a child of a critical worker) from July 4th. Realistically, the eligibility criteria is going to make running a class in school all but completely unviable for as long as state schools remain open.
When schools shut for summer, which is typically around middle to late July, you should be able to open classes for children from all age ranges and settings, provided you stick to strict guidance on controlling the spread of Coronavirus.
The advice is that groups should be kept small – no more than 15 per class with 1 or 2 instructors. These same ‘pods’ of 15 students should be maintained as much as possible, and classes may have to be smaller if your venue or audience require it.
There is very specific guidance for the protective measures out of school setting clubs must follow if you are to re-open. We provide full assistance meeting these obligations via our Recovery Toolkit too.
Is Sport Specifically Permitted?
To be quite frank, who knows! This guidance now contradicts earlier guidance from a separate place on sport and recreation. We are now effectively facing two contrasting points of guidance, with the specific advice offered to clubs and sports coaches having not been updated (and therefore technically not changed).
As per usual, DCMS and Government are not responding to our requests for urgent clarity and whilst the Sport & Recreation Alliance are working with us to try and gain confirmation as soon as possible, they too will be wrestling with the same departments.
We will provide a formal update when we have full confirmation but would hazard a guess that martial arts can return, if gymnastics and ballet (some of our very closely referenced ‘neighbouring’ sports) is permitted.
So What’s The Overview?
For almost all clubs this guidance is unlikely to mean a great deal of change to the standard ‘mid-July’ anticipated return. It will be immensely challenging to deliver any training during state term time in schools, and where possible this will be to very limited and specifically selected groups.
When school breaks up for Summer, this will coincide or slightly post-date the full industry return to indoor sport and recreation. This means that whilst it will not be an early fix for many clubs, it should provide clarity if you wish to advertise and plan to run summer camps and out-of-school martial arts activities.
We will provide further updates on this as and when guidance becomes available.
What else are we doing to help?
We’ve done everything possible to help the UK martial arts industry pull through this pandemic. Everything from an entire online delivery centre through to all of the insurance extensions needed to allow online and in-person (outdoor) training has been set up and provided by the BMABA without charge. You can learn more about our Coronavirus action plan here.