Covid-19 Updates

 Devon Clubs With Safe Bowl Status

Before clubs return they must consider the effects of Coronavirus and the safety precautions such as sanitisation and record keeping that should be in place. The ESMBA strongly advise clubs to obtain a ESMBA safe bowls status license and  more details on the safe status licence be found here. By having a safe license the club is ensuring they are best placed in the future if there is any further restrictions

The ESMBA are aware some clubs wished to wait for restrictions to be eased and wish to start bowling with out a license. The ESMBA have drafted an interim checklist for those club that are considering taking the responsibility upon themselves to return without an approved risk assessment. The checklist is considered the absolute minimum requirement for clubs to return to bowls. The checklist can be found here 

For more information please contact Devon Safeguarding Officer Marcus Cattell (details can be found here)

DCSMBA have had a safeguarding license granted for their home venue at ISCA. The following DCSMBA registered clubs have been granted an ESMBA Safe Status licence.

19/07/21 Latest ESMBA Covid-19 Statement

With the government now moving to stage 4 on their roadmap with regards to Covid- 19, the ESMBA have issued the following statement:


The latest Government guidance has removed the legal Covid requirements, but it is still their advice to follow good practices, and the ESMBA Committee would ask you to consider your own safety and that of your fellow bowlers and take a cautious approach to returning.

We can all be proud that there have been no recorded outbreaks at any Short Mat bowls club and if everyone remains sensible and respectful this can continue.

SAFE BOWLS CERTIFICATE - The ESMBA continue to strongly recommend that clubs/counties apply for the safe bowls certificate, and we will continue to offer support and guide you via our network of CSGOs with any updates received from Sport England and the Government Department DCMS. The safe bowls status covers the full protocols for covid compliancy and can be returned to in any future outbreaks, local lockdowns or circuit breaks theGovernment might reinstate and may enable your club to continue bowling through any future eventuality.

Clubs/Counties who have obtained Safe bowls status already have all the weapons in their armory to ensure safe play. They can now consider relaxing these protocols to return to a way of bowling which more closely resembles that of pre Covid times. Your Venue protocols, which must be adhered nto, may continue to dictate some aspects of your bowling, and the ESMBA strongly recommended that you continue with the simple and safe practices you have embrace such as sanitising, keeping good attendance records and ensuring a good airflow to maintain Covid safe standards. Your CSGOs will forward the full list of minimum requirements and will liaise with you on any points of relaxation you may wish to undertake.

We would recommend for the continued safety of your members that you only visit other clubs with Safe Bowls status.

COVID AWARENESS GUIDANCE – Although the ESMBA consider it of paramount important that all clubs apply for Safe Bowls status we are mindful of the latest Government guidance and have drafted an interim checklist for those clubs/counties that are considering taking the responsibility upon themselves to return without an approved risk assessment. We consider this Covid Awareness Guidance to be the absolute minimum requirements for a return to bowls. It has been created in the form of a checklist for display at club/County so members can see what measures have been implemented. Its purpose is to highlight areas you should consider.

This Guidance should be signed by the club member taking responsibility for implementing and overseeing these changes and put on displayat the venue. It should also be available for visiting teams, counties, or league representatives on request.

For all clubs we would ask, as a matter of good practice upon return, that you review and audit the information you hold on your members to ensure it is accurate and up to date, as this may play an important role should covid tracking be needed.

Additionally, we would also recommend that physical contact be avoided. Above all, as we come out of this pandemic, we would ask that you be both respectful and tolerant of your fellow bowlers. Please respect their opinions, their choices and their personal space and be supportive of those who are returning to bowls after a long absence.

Barry Hedges ESMBA Chairman on behalf of the Management Committee

The DCSMBA fully endorses the procedures and guidance laid out by the ESMBA and although many of our membership will have been double vaccinated the association feel that it is important, we move forward with the upmost care and caution with cases still rising amongst sections of the population.

The ESMBA are advising that clubs with a safe bowls status only visit clubs with safe bowls status ensuring that the approved risk assessment is as robust and secure as their own.

Please also find here the guidance for clubs in Devon with a safe bowls certificate.

Please find here the Covid awareness guidance and checklist for clubs in Devon who wish to return and do not have a safe bowls club certificate.

For any questions on the safe bowling procedures please contact Eric Pavey (DCSMBA Safeguarding Officer)

30/06/21 Latest ESMBA  Guidance

The ESMBA have announced further guidance for clubs who have “safe bowls status”. The statement comes into force 1st July and can be seen below:

The ESMBA are pleased to announce further relaxations for Safe Bowls Clubs who are already fully conversant with the Covid Protocols. Compliance with the Rule of 6 must be adhered to and the distance between mats must remain at 3 metres.

    1) Safe bowls Clubs may play against other clubs with Safe Bowls Status, including entering leagues and undertaking friendly matches providing the 12-hour rule for triples is complied with. The Home teams Covid procedures must be adhered to by both teams.

    2) Measuring will be allowed providing it is conducted by 1 nominated player per mat, and any equipment compromised in the process is fully sanitised after each measure.   

    3) Scoreboards will be allowed if only 1 person is nominated to make any updates i.e., every other end. The scoreboard must be sanitised before and after use. Please ensure wipes are used for the purpose if an electric scoreboard is used – do not use spray.

    4) Club bowls can now be used by one person per session (no sharing) and they are sanitised before and after use. Social distance must be maintained when collecting club bowls from storage.

    5) Live bowls/jack in the ditch can be marked positionally in the normal manner (chalked) only by nominated bowlers, any compromised equipment must be thoroughly sanitized before starting the next end. Spray chalk must still be used to mark Touchers.

All other aspects in the Approved Risk Assessment remain in place. Club Committees and Safeguarding Officers must ensure they are aware of the changing government guidance, especially regarding any new strains or symptoms, or changes to home testing or isolation requirements.

Barry Hedges

ESMBA Chairman on behalf of the ESMBA Management Committee

14/05/21 Latest ESMBA Road Map Guidance

Following the planned lowering on restrictions within England on Monday 17th May, the ESMBA have released updated guidance on their road map which is as follows:

Following the Government’s announcement on 10th May 2021, on reducing lockdown restrictions the ESMBA announce the following guidelines for returning to bowls. Clubs will still need to achieve ‘Safe Bowls’ certification to return from 17th May 2021 via the approved route.

It is worth noting that at present there is no advice from Government as to what restrictions and what the new normal will be from 21st June 2021. So at present the ESMBA would encourage clubs to undertake the process of ‘Safe Bowls’ certificate for the safety of its members.

Clubs with ‘Safe Bowls Status’ may return to bowls from 17th May 2021.

Guidance for ‘Safe Bowls’ certified clubs (as updated weekly on the ESMBA Web Page), and their Registered Players.

  • Safe Bowls rules apply in all Club Roll Ups.

  • Move to Triples should be confirmed by request in writing to the County Safeguarding Officer who will respond in writing. Additional rules apply to Triples especially no playing of consecutive sessions.

 • Internal Club competitions may take place Singles, Pairs and Triples (if approved) however these games must adhere strictly to the ‘Rule of Six’, Players cannot change mats, Players cannot play more than the games allowed in the ‘Rule of Six’ within the time frame of 12 hours. Eg A triple can only play 1 game within 12 hours but if 6 Singles players play in a group of 6 they could play each other within the time frame. No substitutes are allowed.

 • Internal competitive games must be in addition to club roll ups not instead of. They must comply with all the Clubs approved Safe Bowls Protocols including No measuring.

 • Counties with ‘Safe Bowls Status’ for their venues will be allowed to open but must also adhere to the above.

We would remind all ‘Safe Bowls’ clubs and counties that the scheme is for affiliated members only.

Barry Hedges On behalf of the ESMBA Management Committee

10/04/21 ESMBA Events Announcement

The ESMBA have announced a brief outline of their events plan for the 201/22 season.  The statement found on the ESMBA website is as follows:

ESMBA Events Update

We recently published our approach to return to safe bowls in our roadmap. Part of that is the transition back to competitive bowls, The ESMBA along with other National Governing Bodies, where appropriate, response to the holding of competitive events is;

World Championships (Belgium March 21) - unfortunately these have had to be postponed for a second time due to COVID 19 restrictions. All being well these championships are planned to be held in Belgium in March 22. A further update is planned after the World Bowls Council meeting on 27th March 21. The players originally selected to represent England in 2020 will be given first refusal for the 2022 championships.

Inter County Championships - The counties remaining in their respective championships (semi finals) will be asked if they would like to conclude the competition to be held in September 21. It is hoped to organise an ICC event from October 21, however the format is likely to be different for this year as we ease ourselves back into regular competitive bowling.

National Championships - The finals in April 21 have been postponed with a view to rearrange for September 21. A questionnaire was issued recently aimed at registered players that qualified for the 2020 National finals to gauge feelings towards playing in the finals and future Championship format. This went to County Secretaries and Competition Organisers to distribute. If you haven’t seen a copy please speak to your County contacts. Your views are important and will help inform the ESMBA’s approach to the Championships. National Championships for the season 2021/22 are being planned however the format may well be different to take account of the likely changes to our daily lives.

TLH Top team - The event due in may has fallen foul to the COVID-19 regulations and has been postponed. The good news is the teams who have qualified will be offered their place for May 22. Alternatively people who have paid a deposit can put this towards a break with TLH when circumstances allow.

British Isles Championships - The British Isles Council met recently to discuss the forthcoming championships in November 21 releasing a statement confirming that the championships are planned to go ahead, however the timing and format may differ from the norm. A further update is planned after the Government COVID 19 update on 17th May 21. Top team event - Now planned to take place in January 22 again reliant on planned Government COVID 19 announcements.

ESMBA Diary - A draft diary is being prepared to reflect our approach to getting back to competitive bowling. A decision is still to be made whether any open competitions will be organised. In conclusion, it must be made clear this update is based on the latest COVID-19 regulations and will be updated based on any future COVID-19 announcements.

A hard copy of this statement can be found here

12/03/21 ESMBA Announce Routemap

The ESMBA have announced their latest roadmap for when the latest lockdown eases.  Thestatement found on the ESMBA website is as follows:


In line with the latest Government COVID Policy the ESMBA interpretation is

• Up to no earlier than 12th April 2021 short mat bowls cannot re-commence however, it is strongly recommended that clubs, county associations and leagues with central venues apply for Safe Bowls now.

• No earlier than 12th April 2021 where venues e.g. leisure facilities and community centres(not Village Halls) are open and allow indoor sports those Short Mat Bowls Clubs and County Associations that have “Safe Bowls” status can resume but must observe the condition that only one person or people from the same household can play on each mat.

• No earlier than 17th May 2021 where venues e.g. leisure facilities and community centre sare open and allow indoor sports those Short Mat Bowls Clubs and County Associations that have “Safe Bowls” status can resume but must observe the condition that up to 6 bowlers from different households or members of 2 households can play on each mat.

• No earlier than 21st June 2021 it is hoped all limits on social contact are removed and short mat bowls can return to normal enabling all bowlers to make informed personal decisions about social contact. This will be reviewed when more information is received.

It must be remembered that this is only a guide and can change dependent on the latest Governments interpretation of the most recent data.

Also, to return to bowls Clubs, Leagues and County Associations must hold “Safe Bowls”status. Anyone found not adhering to ESMBA policy could face further action.

The ESMBA will continue to update everyone once more details are released for each stage.

Barry Hedges on behalf of ESMBA Management Committee "

A hard copy of this statement can be found here

04/01/21 National Lockdown

Following the government announcement which placed the whole of England into a national lockdown all Short Mat Bowls is suspended regardless of whether a bowls club has a “Safe Bowls License” or not. The national lockdown is due to last until at least the middle of February. People can only leave their home for specific reason and these can be found at

02/11/20 ESMBA Issue Tier System Statement

The ESMBA have tonight issued a statement regarding the tier system and Coronavirus. The rules for “safe bowls “certified clubs to be able to  return as been tightened up even further. With Devon in tier 2 the rules may mean it is financially unviable for many “safe bowls” clubs to return. The statement is as follows:

ESMBA Coronavirus statement 1st December 2020

The ESMBA Management Committee have reviewed the current Government guidelines for the return to sport under each tier. At present the ESMBA are awaiting clarification for pairs play under Tier Two between different households/support bubbles and until such time as that is received the following conditions apply

Tier One – Medium Risk 

For ‘Safe Bowls’ certificated clubs that have affiliated members

Tier Two - High Risk

For ‘Safe Bowls’ certificated clubs that have affiliated members

Tier Three - Very High Risk

For ‘Safe Bowls’ certificated clubs that have affiliated members

We would remind all "Safe Bowls" clubs that it is for affiliated members only. Clubs that have failed to affiliate will have their status removed with immediate effect and are no longer authorised by the ESMBA to return to bowls under any Tier.

Barry Hedges on Behalf of the ESMBA Management Committee."

A hard copy of this statement can be found here

20/10/20 Safe Bowl Status Update

Following the introduction of the Government Tier system to combat the rise in Coronavirus, the ESMBA have released the following statement

"The Government have now introduced a tier system for the Country, whilst the ESMBA await further updates from the DCMS and Sport England, the Management Committee have decided to err on the side of caution. With effect of 17th October 2020 the rules for clubs in the following tiers are as follows:

Tier 1 Postcodes can continue as per the approved protocols.

Tier 2 Postcodes can only allow single households or social bubbles per rink mat, these members MUST NOT mix with any other individuals.

Tier 3 Postcodes Sport and physical activity can be played as per the guidance under Tier 2. These restrictions are put in place not just to protect the bowls family but the wider communities that we play and live in.

We hope that these restrictions are only temporary and as soon as we have agreed procedures in place to play again, we will update you all."

In addition to the above information, The DCSMBA would like to remind clubs that they can only return to bowling, once they have a safe bowl status which they have to apply for. More information can be found here

13/10/20 Safe Bowl Status and Affiliation

The County Safeguarding Officer Eric Pavey would like to remind clubs that Safe bowl status and affiliation go hand in hand.It is only clubs that are affiliated to the ESMBA via Devon County who can apply for safe bowl status. In addition we would like to remind club secretaries that Affiliations/registrations for the coming season are now due. For further information on Registrations please contact County Secretary Barrie Goodchild

26/09/20 ESMBA Release Further Guidance Following Government Rule Changes

Following the Governments recent amendments to the coronavirus rules relating to ‘The rule of 6’, The ESMBA issue the following guidance on its safe bowls certificate.

Clubs with “Safe Bowls” status and operating on ONE MAT will be permitted to continue as their approved documentation.

Clubs with “Safe Bowls” status on MULTIPLE MATS will be permitted to continue but with additional conditions. The prime consideration is that each mat is classed as an individual group, each group MUST NOT have ANY interaction of any kind with any other and must always strictly maintain 2m social distance.

As you can imagine this will have to be strictly managed and additional restrictions will have to be adhered to, detailed guidelines will be issued to Safe Clubs via the safeguarding officers.

ONLY CLUBS affiliated with the ESMBA and having achieved “Safe Bowls” status can operate within the Government guidelines. Clubs not complying with affiliation or “Safe Bowls’ status will be classed as a social gathering thus bowling illegally. The ESMBA will take disciplinary action against members that return to bowls without “Safe Bowls” status.

Furthermore, as per the ESMBA Route Map, the ESMBA will allow clubs with ‘Safe Bowls’ status to move to triples per mat group if space permits. Additional guidance on the specifics of this and the authorisation process will be issued by the county safeguarding officers. It is important that clubs proceed to triples only after completing at least 2 session of pairs.

We again remind the members that the ESMBA Emergency Fund is available for members to apply for. The first round of applications closes on the 30th September 2020.

The Government recognise the importance of members being affiliated to National Governing Bodies, and that these bodies are best placed to manage and monitor the protocols of safe return to sport. As such they only recognise those clubs that have achieved the NGB Published guidance and protocols.

It is important to point out that many hours have been put into the ESMBA “Safe Bowls” scheme and that all applications are judged on the same process and protocols. The ESMBA Risk Assessment template must be completed in detail and although reference can be made to the supporting documents, the statement in them must be written on the Risk Assessment.

Barry Hedges ESMBA Chairman On behalf of the ESMBA management committee

17/08/20 ESMBA Publish Return to Short Mat Bowls Roadmap & Action Plan

The ESMBA have now announced that the Road map for the return of Short Mat bowls has been approved by the department for Digital, Culture, Media & Sport. Short mat bowls has been given the green light to start resuming in some form from September. However, there is to be strict adherence to Covid-19 compliance rules. These are laid out further below.

Before clubs can resume, they must liaise with the county Safeguarding Officer (Eric Pavey: if they wish to proceed with an application to start bowling. Clubs will need to sign a declaration  that all the compliance guidelines are met and once it has been confirmed that they have been met a license for that club will be issued to show the club has approved safe bowls status.

Below is a brief outline of the road map:

1. All International matches will be cancelled until March 2021 (re arranged World Championships)

2. The diary will be clear of England days and games (to enable Counties to use these later in the year when safe to do so).

3. The ESMBA National Championships 2019/20 will be postponed until April 2021. There will be no qualifiers for the Main Nationals this season.

4. (September 2020) Clubs will be able to open for social roll ups, maximum four per mat providing they have met the criteria laid down by the ESMBA, and approved to do so.

 5. (October 2020) Clubs will be able to increase their participation from four to six per mat, if they can comply with the then social distance guidance.

 6. (November 2020) Inter club activities will be permitted. (guidelines will be issued nearer the time).

 7. (December 2020) County Open competitions will be permitted (guidelines will be issued nearer the time).

8. (January 2021) The ESMBA will look to run knock out and open Competition based at Club level.

 9. (January/February 2021) Counties will be able to run National Over 55s and Mixed Fours qualifiers.

 10. The ESMBA membership will remain due for the Association. There will be a reduced playing diary at National level but the Administration of the Association will remain the same. Both the ESMBA and County Associations will be there for the support of their members. The Personal Accident insurance will still cover personal Accidents whilst playing and in official capacity of Short Mat Bowls.

11. The ESMBA is to allocate a large proportion of the coming seasons membership fee to a Covid19 fund and invite applicants to apply for funding to ensure their clubs are compliant and remain active. (Details below).

Full details of the ESMBA COVID-19 Action plan, Compliance checklist, Risk assessments and the associated documents can be found below:

Reminder: All the relevant documents must be approved by the club Safeguarding officer and counter signed by the County Safeguarding officer (Eric Pavey: before a license is issued.

In addition the ESMBA have announced and produced guidance on the ESMBA Community Emergency fund which has been set up to aid clubs for the extra expense incurred in playing bowls in this Covid-19 world. The aim of the fund is to sustain and grow registered bowlers. The fund will help fund the following:

a)Expenses essential to the maintain the operational viability of the organisation in playing short mat bowls such as the hire cost of extra sessions to enable all members to participate, hygiene essentials, and bowls lifters 

b) Activities to kickstart short mat bowls in your local area for example advertising costs and if practical open sessions

c) A contribution to your local club, league or County Association membership fee. To be eligible you must be able to demonstrate that your ESMBA registered player numbers are at least maintained at the 2019/20 level. This would be measured after the deadline for registrations i.e. end of November. This is likely to be in the second phase of funding based on the measurement point

d) Other ideas and expenses that are as a result of the Covid pandemic e.g. completion of a risk assessment.

More information on this fund can be found on the link below: