The PE Events team would like to update our members on the current situation on the 2021 Inter-Regionals.
We have been working hard in trying to fulfill the new arrangement which we had negotiated with Pontins in 2020. Unfortunately, due to the Covid pandemic we have been unable to get key questions answered by Pontins about the hosting of our event at their site in Lowestoft and do not yet have a contract in place.
There are numerous issues which need to be sorted such as having a site visit to assess both playing and other facilities, obtaining a date where Pontins need to confirm our booking, having a risk assessment of our event performed by Pontins and many others. We have significant concerns that it will not be possible to carry out all of the necessary preparatory work in time for this new venue.
We are in a year where we are coming out of the COVID-19 restrictions and returning to play although there is always a risk that the target dates for the lessening of restrictions are not met or changed.
We cannot guarantee many things so following a Regional Presidents Update Meeting this week via Zoom it was decided unanimously that if we cannot get the answers to our questions by early April then we will run the Inter-Regional Championships as split weekend events across the country. For example, the Championship will be at one venue, the Challenge at another and the same with the Juniors. Another option which will be considered is a single non-residential venue.
This will be a logistical challenge, but we are determined to get it done and provide a competitive and enjoyable experience for everybody. Although the event will be different it will mean that we will be holding our Inter-Regional Championships in 2021, ready for a return to a single site residential weekend in 2022. This will obviously mean fewer players at the venues and the use of local accommodation but will ensure that we can provide safe conditions for everybody.
The Events team will now start work on delivering the 2021 Inter-Regionals which will take place over the weekend of 4th and 5th September as envisaged in our national calendar.
Return to play
The PE Board would also like to clarify the latest position on a return to play for our sport also discussed at the meeting with Regional Presidents.
‘Step 1’ no earlier than the 29th March envisages organised outdoor sport being allowed.
The Government’s ‘Road Map’ states: “Formally organised outdoor sports – for adults and under 18s – can also restart and will not be subject to the gatherings limits, but should be compliant with guidance issued by national governing bodies.”
We wish to reiterate two things:
 We are awaiting further information from Government on the precise regulations that will apply in order to review our ‘Play Safe Guidelines’ and amend them if necessary. No formally organised playing of our sport can take place without limits on gatherings unless the organisers and venue can demonstrate full compliance with these Guidelines. We will issue these as soon as we are able with a view to them being valid and applicable from 29th March. Until that time, these Guidelines remain suspended (they have been so since 6th January 2021) and no formal playing of our sport should be taking place. Doing so risks sanctions from the authorities.
 It remains unclear as to whether there will be any travel restrictions applied in terms of the formal playing of our sport if 29th March is confirmed as the outdoor sports commencement date. This means that any member, club, league or region cannot be certain yet that any activity or event they are planning to hold after 29th March can include people who may be travelling significant distances to participate. We recognise that it is only natural that organisers do want to plan ahead, but they must bear in mind the possibility of travel restrictions affecting participants. The PE Board has no problem with organisers using our social media to advertise events they are planning, but we wish to emphasise that this does not imply that we endorse these events taking place at this time. Our support for any formal playing of our sport, including travel to venues, is linked entirely to the removal of the suspension of our Play Safe Guidelines, which in turn is linked to clarity from our Government which is not yet available to us.
Finally, we would underline that we have adjusted our national calendar so that the events we organise are scheduled after 17th May which is the earliest date for ‘Step 3’ which allows for hotel accommodation to open along with indoor hospitality offered by pubs and clubhouses.