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Covid-19 Return to Play update, as of 29/03/21

This document provides an update on the ETA’s Return to Play plans in line with the easing of the government lockdown and the safe return to play for recreational sport from Monday, March 29th, 2021.

It should be read in conjunction with the ETA’s overall Return to Play plans which can be found here, and unless variations are specifically listed in this document, the ETA’s overall Return to Play should be adhered to at all times.

You can find details of the government’s specific guidance around the return of grass roots recreational sport here.

Risk assessments

Prior to any return, clubs, leagues, regions and other organisations, should only return to play if they have carried out an updated risk assessment, taking into account any additional considerations as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Further details can be found in ETA’s overall Return to Play plans here.

Prior to any activity taking place

All clubs, leagues, regions and other organisations are still required to operate a Track and Trace procedure and all participants are required to self-declare that they are not experiencing any symptoms or have been requested to isolate, prior to attending any activity.

Further details can be found in ETA’s overall Return to Play plans here.

Travel to and from activity

From March 29th, 2021, the stay at home rule is no longer in force and participants are not restricted by law on how far they can travel to take part in organised sporting activity.

Participants are currently not permitted to stay overnight for recreational sporting purposes.

Participants in touch and organisations planning activity, should do so based on the ETA’s Return to Play plan.

On March 29th, 2021, the ETA will be moving to Stage 4: Local. This means that the following will be possible:

  • Club training, including intra-club matches
  • Local leagues, i.e.: teams from the same town, or area
  • Fixtures between two teams from different towns
  • Local tournaments of up to four teams

Should the reduction in Covid-19 cases continue and the UK Government move to its next step out of lockdown on April 12th, then England Touch will move into Stage 5: Regional on April 26th. This is expected to include:

  • Regional tournaments of up to eight clubs
  • Regional training and development activity
  • In-person coaching and referee courses at regional locations

You can find more information in the guidance on safer travel.

Facility use

Facilities are permitted to open toilets for use by participants, but all other indoor areas should remain closed. Participants are required to come changed prior to activity.

Rules on changing and other indoor areas may be reviewed as part of the further easing of restrictions in the coming months.

Playing and training

Length of sessions and matches are no longer restricted to 75 minutes. There is also no longer any limit on the numbers of participants that can take place in organised Touch activity. However, any activity planned MUST be able to ensure that:

  • Exposure to face-to-face contact is less than 3 seconds at all times and collective exposure at less than a metre is for no more than 15 minutes in total. Please consider this prior to planning longer training sessions or matches
  • All participants, including, players, referees and coaches should remain socially distanced (2m apart) at all times before and after matches, as well as during any breaks in play. Please consider the space you have before confirming activity and numbers of participants
  • All participants, including, players, referees and coaches should clean and sanitise their hands at least every 15 minutes
  • All equipment, including balls, should be sanitised at least every 15 minutes. Sharing of equipment should be avoided, including bibs and shirts/vests

In order to assist with planning activity during this phase of the Return to Play, the ETA is recommending that you maintain a group size of no more than 30 participants on any one Touch field.


Spectators are not permitted in any setting.

This does not apply to carers for people with disabilities, or adults needed to supervise under-18s in a safeguarding role. Where it is necessary for them to be present, supervising adults should not mix with others from outside their household or support bubble and should remain socially distanced at all times.

Further information

For further information, please initially contact your Club or League Covid-19 Officer.

For further information from the ETA, please email, or contact us via the COVID-19 WhatsApp group.

We are England Touch

We are the players. We are the supporters, willing us on. We are the medals, waiting to be won. We are the touchdowns, waiting to be scored. We are the men and women of all ages. We are the talent of today. We are the potential for tomorrow. We are one team. We are England Touch