Covid-19: Return to play protocols

England Handball | COVID-19 Update | September 2020
The following guidelines outline Step 4 and 5 of Handball’s Return-to-Play. 
Many leisure centres opened after 25 July 2020, allowing access to indoor sports halls and provision.However, since then the 'Rule-of-Six' has been applied to indoor team sports for players aged 18 and over. We will shortly be updating our summary document to reflect this.
Please note that specific localised plans developed by leisure providers and Local Authorities supersede national NGB guidance. The guidance detailed below is comprehensive and should be implemented as a minimum standard.
You may be asked to produce a risk assessment by the leisure provider.
Return to play stages: 

Stage 1: Completed
Small group training e.g. Individual technical work/outside

Stage 2: Completed

Small group training – indoor – without contact.

Stage 3: Completed
Team Training – indoor – without contact.

Stage 4: Completed
Team Training – with contact.

Stage 5: Approved
Return to full competition. See image below. This is a summary of the measures approved by the DCMS.

Return-to-Play Stages 4 and 5 Rule of Six Update
What stage of Return-to-Play are we at?
We are at Stage 4 and 5. Taking into account the rule-of-six for indoor sports, this means we have been given the green light for under-17s to play matches, and for clubs to return to full training. We are hopeful that we may yet see some competitive play this season at junior level, even though normal routines and schedules will have to be re-defined. However, the health and safety of the handball community is our main priority and we will continue to update our plans and guidance in line with the changing circumstances linked to the pandemic.
Should we start booking facilities for training/matches?
We advise clubs to consider what their facility requirements are for training sessions as there is often a high demand for some facilities. Clubs should follow the latest government advice regarding social distancing and the rule-of-six for indoor sports, as well as the England Handball guidance. They should also be familiar with regulations at their leisure facility.
We would advise that clubs and teams check the cancellation policy of any booking. Although we have been given the green light to return to playing matches for under-17s, a date of return, and format, have yet to be confirmed for the 2020/21 season. We would, therefore, advise against clubs making any firm commitments for venues that cannot be changed. However, if team is directly financially affected by having to cancel a hall booking because of Covid-19 they can apply for compensation/support from England Handball to reimburse for lost hall hire charges.   

How should we organise training sessions? 

The rule-of-six for indoor sports means that players aged 18 and over should train in 'bubbles' of six. See the England Handball guidance signed off by the DCMS for more details.

If an individual player contracts Covid-19 then the whole team (under-17s) or players in the training bubble (18 and over) would be required to self-isolate. 

To mitigate the risk of hall cancellations, clubs should:

  • split their training squads into bubbles/sections as defined by the rule-of-six (We would recommend this for under-17s as well) and
  • avoid mingling/interspersing between the team.  

 This way if a player did contract Covid-19 the players directly in contact (please check the Government definition) with the affected player would need to self-isolate. 

Cancellation of fixtures due to Covid-19   

If the team/club has the minimum number of players to complete the fixture, then the game should go ahead according to England Handball rules and regulations.   

If the team does not have a minimum of players to complete a fixture directly due to Covid-19, and provide appropriate evidence (Positive Test of the individual player and names/number of people affected), the designated fixture can be postponed.  

The team directly financially affected by having to cancel a hall booking because of Covid-19 can apply for compensation/support from England Handball to reimburse for lost hall hire charges.   

What if my area is the subject to a local lockdown, or a national lockdown is re-introduced?
All clubs should adhere to national and local Government guidance. Any local restrictions or national restrictions supersede England Handball guidance. This may mean handball activity is suspended in some areas or moves back a stage. To view the latest government guidance and how it affects your area please click here

Who should we contact Re Covid-19?   

Contact the England Handball Covid-19 officer - john.pearce@englandhandball.com