Pathway to green light for UK polo, but currently no competitive polo below 8 goals
Today, Wednesday 3 June, the Hurlingham Polo Association have released their eighth update for Clubs and Members, as well as an updated Procedures for Exercising, Training and Polo under COVID-19. The procedures have been revised and updated with Levels 4 and 5 added in for preparation of the English high goal and Victor Ludorum tournaments. These additional levels will allow for teams to practice and play competitively (once clubs have met the necessary requirements and been formerly approved by the HPA), but currently only for 8 goals and above. This is due to only elite sport being allowed under current Government guidelines, having spoken directly to the HPA, Polo Times has been assured that should there be any movement or relaxation in this, then the HPA will of course act immediately to open up polo at all levels, when appropriate. Below is the eighth update and updated procedures in full.
Update No 8 for Clubs and Members Wednesday 03.06.201.
a. Dates and restrictions continue to be dependent on the various tests set by the Government being met, but Government has now announced the start of Stage Three, a framework to progress the return to ‘Domestic Competition – No Spectators’ for elite teams/athletes, defined as those who derive a living from competing in a sport. The guidance for Stage One and Two activity must remain in place to underpin the progression of Stage Three which allows for elite sporting events to commence behind closed doors once the various parties concerned, the HPA, host clubs and players, are content that the necessary procedures are in place.
b. The aim is to allow HPA clubs to provide for players and all associated staff a safe environment which meets the requirements set by Public Health England and enable elite sports persons to prepare for and then play tournament polo as soon as they are deemed to be ready. The fitness of the ponies is an important aspect of readiness and hence clubs should ensure that members have had time to get their ponies fit before hosting competitive polo. One change has been made to the Victor/Victrix Ludorum fixture list and that is to delay the start of the Beaufort Prince of Wales 12 goal tournament which will now start on 16 June and finish on 21 June. The Dollar Cup at Cowdray will the start on 23 June and finish Saturday 4 July as planned.
c. The protection of all persons from Covid-19 is of the greatest importance and hence the numbers attending any training sessions or games must be kept to an absolute minimum. Only those who are essential may attend. Sadly, that does not include family members unless they are working and booked in as such. It is the responsibility of every individual player and person connected to the sport to follow the HPA’s Covid-19 guidelines at all times so as to ensure the continued health and safety of everyone involved in the game and thus the successful continuation of the sport.
d. To get the sport going as soon as possible rule changes are still being considered, minimising line outs and unnecessary contact, but only for as long as necessary.
e. Testing is not currently a condition of the Government but will be kept under review as new tests are being developed. In certain circumstances a negative test may enable the isolation period to be reduced and Directive No 2 takes account of testing for this purpose.
2. Procedures. These have been revised and updated. Levels 4 and 5 have been added in preparation for the start of the 22 goal and VL tournaments. Level 4 will only be approved at this stage for domestic club training games and practices of 8 goals and above. These will also be used to confirm any rule changes. In the meantime, face coverings must continue to be worn as set out in the Updated Procedures dated 03.06.20 at Annex A but this will be kept under review and clubs should focus on hosting Level 3 for the purposes of training and getting ponies fit.
3. Coaching. The Government rules now allow gatherings of up to 6 individuals provided that social distancing is maintained. This means that an individual coach may now instruct up to 5 people in a group lesson.
4. Quarantine. The Government has imposed a 14 day quarantine for those entering the UK on or after 8 June, with a review after 3 weeks.
PROCEDURES EXERCISING, TRAINING AND POLO UNDER COVID-19 AS AT 3 JUNE 20201. The requirement for social distancing and strict hygiene protocols continues as does a policy of limiting numbers for gatherings. Clubs and individuals shall adhere to the Government C-19 guidance as described at the time in general. These may change at short notice.
2. The HPA has revised Directive No 1 as below.
It is not intended to supersede or replace UK Government guidelines and should be read in the context of all such UK Guidelines in force at the time.Directive No 2“Any member of the HPA:
• Who develops symptoms of COVID-19 cannot go to an HPA affiliated club or event until they have isolated themselves for a period of not less than 7 days (UK Government guidelines) and ideally 14 days from symptom onset (WHO guidelines). They have the option to apply for a test (UK Government guidelines) but cannot go to an HPA club until they have a certificate showing that they have tested negative. If they test positive or are unable to get a test, they must complete their isolation period of 7 (or 14) days.
• Who discovers that they are living with someone known or suspected to have COVID-19 cannot go to an HPA affiliated club or event for a period of 14 days (UK Government guidelines) as it can take 14 days for COVID-19 symptoms to appear (the incubation period). If the suspected person tests negative, the self-isolation may end.
• Who has been officially informed that they are a contact of someone known to have COVID-19, should follow the official guidance (yet to be published but this may be by the NHS Track and Trace app or by human contact tracers).
• These provisions also apply to any person working for or supporting HPA members who have a responsibility to ensure that those persons adhere to the above if going to an HPA affiliated club or event.”
3. All Attendees at an HPA Affiliated Club or Event.
• Each vehicle should have its own hand sanitiser displayed on entry and used on getting out of the vehicle.
• Each attendee should have their own face covering, also displayed on entry.
• Each attendee should take their own temperature the day before and the morning of play. If it is 37.8 or above they should not got to polo.
4. Clubs. Clubs should appoint a “C-19 Club Official” to coordinate club responsibilities for the various mandatory measures as set out below. Additional Daily Liaison Officers (or Covid Marshalls) should be appointed as required to carry out duties on site on his behalf:
a. Hygiene:• Source/supply appropriate hygiene and cleaning equipment.
• Display and communicate hygiene protocols.
• Position cleaning material at necessary sanitisation stations.
• Provide clear communications and signage for the above
• Regularly disinfect high risk areas and contact zones including pony lines.
b. Logs and Temperature Checks:
• Log declarations and liability waivers for all attendees.
• Log attendees with when and where so that tracking is readily available in the event of someone having the virus.• Check for signs of C-19 which must include a recorded temperature check for all attendees.
• No entry for attendees with a temperature 37.8 or above or showing S&S of C-19. They should be sent home and told to follow procedure as laid down by PHE. There needs to be room for them to turn around and leave.
• If an attendee develops a temperature or S & S of Covid-19 having been admitted, clubs must have a well signed isolation area.
c. Social Distancing
• Have a vehicle separation and parking policy to ensure social distancing measures can be met.
• Ensure 2m social distancing can be maintained in high risk areas such as pony lines, washdown areas, loos, team tents.
• Where social distancing measures cannot be applied or are difficult, restrict their use and require persons to wear a face covering. For example: o In all levels both players and grooms should always wear them when the player is dismounting, mounting or changing ponies. o In levels 2 and above players should continue to wear them when training or playing at this stage but this will be kept under review. The aim of the face covering is to prevent player to player transmission. Washable, cloth face masks (not surgical masks) are recommended. Surgical masks are unsuitable as it is not possible to breathe through the fabric but only around the sides, and also because the NHS needs to have priority on supplies.
• Space training by time and location so that there is time for pony lines etc to be cleaned between sessions and so that contact between individuals is reduced as far as possible.
• Allow time for safe entry, unboxing, boxing and exit of traffic/players/grooms without impacting on local traffic.
d. Additional Points
• Club risk assessment should cover each access and ground.
• There is a daily status report on the capacity of each hospital so there should be no need to ring a hospital. Clubs should be in position to provide individual club statistics on accidents requiring patient transport/treatment by NHS to all chukkas/activities played in 2019 and in previous years if available.
5. HPA Progressive Levels. In line with Government policy different levels have been set to enable training to progress to tournaments in stages. For all levels there shall be a Covid Marshall specifically responsible for ensuring that social distancing is maintained where possible on the field and any unnecessary contact is kept to a minimum (see Note). They may be a player or official, on or off the ground.
• Level 1. Up to 5 on a field at any one time for no contact individual training stick and ball or in pairs
• Level 2. Up to 7 on a field at any one time for no contact training for set and combination plays
• Level 3. Up to 7 on a field at any one time for 3 on 3 training with any unnecessary contact kept to a minimum.
• Level 4. Up to 10 on a field at any one time for elite training and practice games with any unnecessary contact kept to a minimum. Currently only eligible for teams of 8 goals and above.
• Level 5. Up to 10 on a field at any one time for competitive matches played to HPA rules as published at the time. Currently only eligible for teams of 8 goals and above.
Note: HPA Rule 31 Rough Play states that: “A player may ride off an opponent provided that the ponies are travelling at the same speed, are shoulder to shoulder and come together at a safe angle. When riding off, the elbow must be kept close to the side and a player may not push with the head, hand, arm, or elbow another player.” Due to the risks of virus transmission:• All line outs are suspended for Level 2 and 3 training. Alternative methods such as knock ins or hits from the centre should to be utilised until the further notice. Draft rules to replace line outs will be circulated shortly. • For Level 3, no contact is allowed unless 2 opponents are competing to make a play at the ball. Once any such play is completed the players should move apart to the recommended safe distance. All other contact is to be strictly avoided.
6. HPA Approval. Approval for Level 1 will be dependent on a club having confirmed to the HPA that they have:
• Provided the HPA with their risk assessment for Level 1 and the name of their Covid-19 Officer.
• Put in place the required procedures for Level 1.
• Received written permission (via email) from the HPA.Approval for each level thereafter will be dependent on a club having:
• Provided the HPA with their risk assessment adjusted as required for the next level.• Confirmed that its procedures have been satisfactory and also adjusted as required.• Received written permission (via email) from the HPA.
7. Number of Grooms and Ponies. To keep numbers down the following limits for grooms and ponies are currently proposed:
Up to Level 4: 2 grooms/6 ponies
4 chukka polo: 2 grooms/6 ponies
5 chukka polo: 3 grooms/8 ponies
6 chukka polo: 4 grooms/10 ponies
Photograph: The HPA have released their update No 8. By ©www.imagesofpolo.com