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 24th of September

In previous notices that UKAPU have given out, the author of this document had given his opinion that Airsoft is a thing that fits within the category of adventure pursuits as well as being fitness related. In addition, the author quite often refers to Airsoft as a sport, even though there is no governing body and this assertion is based solely upon the dictionary definition of the word “sport”.

The author stands by these categorisations.

Previously secondary legislation was enacted by the Government that allowed events to occur with undefined numbers in locations that were outdoors or indoors, as long as they fell under the remit of a “sport gathering“.

The legislation was changed to modify the definition of a sport gathering to have attendance limits (otherwise casually known as the rule of six) re-imposed. Essentially, it means that any indoor sport gatherings (that are not for those with disabilities) are treated as standard indoor gatherings, with groups limited to a maximum of six as per the rest of the hospitality and leisure sector.

What’s a sports gathering?

Good question. It’s a gathering, for the purposes of uh, sport. It’s for people who aren’t elite sports-people taking part in any form of fitness activity or sport where such activity is being held in a location that, barring exceptions, is outdoors only – and furthermore is COVID-secure. No spectators are allowed to be counted as being part of the sports gathering, not like there would be spectators at a skirmish anyway.

All of the following points make a sports gathering:

  • For people who aren’t eligible or aren’t nominated for the Olympics or Commonwealth Games in this particular pursuit
  • Held outside
  • Event must be organised or ran by a business (or other body corporate)
  • Event has been competently risk assessed for Coronavirus associated risks
  • Reasonable precautionary measures have been put in place to prevent the spread or transmission of Coronavirus, based on the risk assessment or Government advice that may or may not have been issued

There is no defined limit on the number of attendees of outdoor sports gatherings, however there will be a limit based on the risk assessments that the site owners have performed, as part of their COVID-secure preparations.

What about indoor sports gatherings, like CQB?

Unless the sports gathering is one that is being held for disabled participants, indoor sports gatherings are no longer able to make use of the undefined player counts, and instead are having to conform with the rule of six.

This therefore means that throughout the entire day, a group of six must continue to remain with their group, and must not form or join another group larger of six, or of different people.

Which leads us to a rather interesting state of affairs when it comes to indoor events such as CQB. These would be gatherings that would need to stick to the aforementioned rule of six (called confusingly a “qualifying group”) and ensure that the following rules are maintained:

(2B) For the purposes of paragraph (1)(b)—

(a) “qualifying group”, in relation to a gathering, means a group of persons who are participating in that gathering and which—
(i) consists of no more than six persons, or
(ii) consists of only persons who are members of the same household, or who are members of two households which are linked households in relation to each other;

(b) a person participates in a gathering as a member of a qualifying group only if they are part of a qualifying group and, whilst participating in the gathering, they do not—
(i) become a member of any other group of persons participating in the gathering (whether or not that group is a “qualifying group”), or
(ii) otherwise mingle with any person who is participating in the gathering but is not a member of the same qualifying group as them.

To summarise that section of secondary legislation, members of different groups of 6 can’t mix.