Guidance notes on the club’s COVID mitigation policy

Save the legal requirement, noted below, this policy is for guidance only. We hope that members who have their own and other players’ best interests at heart will follow this guidance to help ensure a sustainable and thriving chess community despite the current global concerns. The club committee will keep this policy under review and will comply with prevailing government and public health guidelines.

In our venue, the Willoughby Arms, chess can be played in three locations – the main playing room (upstairs), the bar (downstairs) and the garden area – either at open tables or in the covered cabins (heated in colder weather). Members and visitors can choose whether to play social chess or analyse games in the bar or the garden. The main playing room comprises a soundproofed area with space for 16 tables. Normally we need six to eight tables for a match, with any social chess on additional tables.

We encourage attendees to be cautious regarding potential infection and to remember that some of those who play chess are in the older age group and may be vulnerable to Covid-19.

Visiting clubs are advised that masks are obligatory

This policy has been necessitated by the Omicron crisis and will be eased as soon as the risk of infection has subsided. The club realises that playing in a mask is neither pleasant nor very social. Requests for individual exemptions will be considered by the Kingston club committee, which should be notified by visiting clubs in advance of a match. Exemptions will not automatically be granted.

COVID symptoms

The main symptoms of coronavirus (COVID-19) are:

  • a high temperature – this means you feel hot to touch on your chest or back (you do not need to measure your temperature)
  • a new, continuous cough – this means coughing a lot for more than an hour, or three or more coughing episodes in 24 hours (if you usually have a cough, it may be worse than usual)
  • a loss of or change to your sense of smell or taste – this means you’ve noticed you cannot smell or taste anything, or things smell or taste different to normal

For some people, having COVID can “feel like a bad cold”, with symptoms such as a headache, sore throat and a runny nose. If you think you may have COVID, it is important to get tested. Even people who don’t feel very ill can put others at risk.

Do not attend the club if you think you may have COVID

Those using the club should minimise viral transmission (ie avoid bringing the virus) by not attending matches or meetings if you

  • have tested positive for COVID (this is a legal requirement)
  • have any COVID symptoms
  • are living in a household with a person who has COVID

Action by the club

The club is mitigating airborne transmission by:

  • insisting that masks must be worn in the playing area and during all matches – this applies to both participants and spectators
  • requesting that players attending the club do a lateral flow test, if possible, on the day of their proposed visit (subject of course to the availability of test kits, which has become very patchy)
  • using a high-efficiency particulate air (HEPA) purifier during playing sessions
  • ventilating the venue as far as is practicable by opening the fire escape
  • spacing out tables as far as is practicable
  • providing a hand sanitiser at the venue to be used prior to a game


  • should be aware that, under the rules of chess, handshakes are no longer obligatory
  • should minimise moving around the room to watch other games
  • should avoid congregating around individual boards
  • are advised to travel to the venue alone if possible

Venue attendees

  • should wear a face covering during matches and at all times in the playing area unless granted exemption. This does not apply in the downstairs bar area or the garden, where mask-free social chess and indeed social chat are permitted in line with government advice that masks are not obligatory in hospitality venues
  • are asked to take a lateral flow test on the day of their proposed visit to ensure they are virus-free
  • are encouraged to maintain social distancing as far as practicable
  • may, if you so wish, disclose your vaccine status but are not obliged to do so
  • should familiarise yourself with official guidance on COVID mitigation

Travelling to away matches

It is important that you do not travel to away matches with other members of your team if you have any symptoms of COVID or any worries that you may have contracted the virus. If travelling by car, you will be in a confined space for what may be quite a long period, and it would be irresponsible to put your team-mates at risk of infection. The car driver should notify passengers of any mitigation requirements for the journey.

More information

Coronavirus page with official advice on the government website

HEPA purifier used at Kingston Chess Club