Regulations in England

This notice aims to produce a hopefully up to date list of all Coronavirus-related legislation that is currently in effect, which would affect both the holding of, and the participation in airsoft skirmishes.

We will not cover items covered in guidance as guidance issued by the UK Government has been known to be confusing when being interpreted along side activities and scenarios that haven’t been explicitly defined in legislation.

Due to how each of the Home Nations have decided to do things a bit differently, there will be separate notices for each country. Please go to the Coronavirus Portal to enquire more about a particular country.

Legislation currently in effect

Here is a list of legislation that, at the last update of this notice, is known by the author to be in force in a manner which places either a restrictive or prohibitive effect on airsoft within England.

There are likely to be more – including local lockdown legislation and this has been rather the challenge to keep up to date. The regulations are long, unwieldy, and as we’ll get onto later, full of legislation that has not – and probably never will be activated.

After 14th of October

The tables have been spun once again, the previous secondary legislation stripped of a fair amount of its law making goodies, and in its place, are three separate pieces of secondary legislation, with each piece of separate legislation covering different parts of England.

In previous notices UKAPU has made references to its thoughts on Airsoft being able to rely on the outdoor sports/physical activity exemption, and it continues to stand by this opinion. We are also however interpreting airsoft venues themselves as fitting within the category of “adventure parks or activities” – a position that we took earlier in the pandemic when secondary legislation was passed to force the temporary closure of large portions of the economy during the first lockdown – and this distinction may become relevant later on.

The idea behind this tiered system is to make a standard coherent set of instructions for people to follow in an attempt to reduce the transmission of the virus. We shall see how this works in practice.

What does this mean for me?

Here’s a brief table of what UKAPU believes the effects of the current regulations are:

ActivityTier 1Tier 2Tier 3
Outdoor skirmish inside your Tier areaYesYesYes*
Outdoor skirmish outside your Tier areaYesYes*Yes*
Indoor skirmish inside your Tier areaRule of 6Household*Household*
Indoor skirmish outside your Tier areaHousehold*Household*Household*
  1. Rule of 6 in this instance refers to either a group of 6 people from any number of households, or more than 6 people from one household or support bubble.
  2. Household in this instance refers to one person, their household or support bubble in Tier 2 and Tier 3 areas.
  3. Any cell marked with an asterisk indicates that we do not recommend our members to skirmish in this environment, notwithstanding of its legality.

Summary of all tiers

The legislation for both of those tiers are overly verbose and defines different criteria for outdoor gatherings. However, both of these tiers currently have broadly the same set of exemptions that apply to outdoor gatherings.

  • An exemption to the aforementioned rule of 6 applies (where Airsoft is concerned) to any outdoor sports gathering. In each of the pieces of secondary legislation of each Tier, it will be referred to as an exemption for “other sports”.
  • An outdoor sports gathering is in essence, an outdoor fitness or sport gathering (what we call a “skirmish”) that is run by any sort of corporate body that has been risk assessed against COVID transmission risks and has had all reasonable mitigation measures carried out to minimise the risk of transmission (otherwise popularly known as “COVID-19 Secure”) – and this definition is the same currently across all 3 tiers.
  • Skirmishers who live within Tier 1 and Tier 2 areas are able to participate in an outdoor skirmish in any area, however we at UKAPU recommend that if skirmishers do choose to skirmish at this time, that they attend sites that are local to them and within the same Tier.
  • Skirmishers who live within Tier 3 are legally able to participate in an outdoor sports gathering in any area however we at UKAPU would recommend that skirmishers who live within Tier 3 localities choose not to skirmish – or if they do skirmish, to keep to a local site in an area within the same Tier.

What about indoor skirmishing?

At present, there is no indoor sporting exception that is available for skirmishers – it is available only to those who have disabilities. We believe therefore the standard indoor regulations for that tier – which in our opinion would prevent the holding the games larger than a total of 6 people in Tier 1 areas, for example.

The basis for our opinion is the Government’s recent change to legislation to remove the indoor sporting exemption for adults who do not have disabilities. Indoor sports such as basketball and football on the basis of this change to legislation have been advised to restrict themselves to rule-of-six or household groups only – which is something that should be kept in mind when attending an indoor airsoft skirmish.