1st July 2021 … 465 days since lockdown began

Status = Confused. Plot = Lost.

Social distancing requirements still exist, unless we pretend that they don’t. “Mitigation” remains the magical business safe word, which is probably fair on many levels but mostly just comes down to the politics of financial necessity.

As it stands, the law still restricts indoor gatherings to groups of 6 (or 2 support bubbles) in retail/leisure premises and all social distancing requirements still apply (eg. 2m separation, masks, table service, mitigation, mitigation, mitigation).

Legally, we can host 24 players, as a minimum of 4 separate groups (at 4+ separate tables), provided that people are vaguely responsible in terms of complying with appropriate personal responsibility, social distancing, and risk mitigation rules/guidelines, … and we all just agree to pretend that you are somehow not breathing the same air. The current thinking appears to be that “surfaces” aren’t much of a transmission vector, provided that you keep your hands out of your mouth and eyes (which is generally considered basic good manners for anyone old enough to be out of a high-chair).

In effect, we (as a society) seem to have reached the point where we are primarily relying on vaccines and personal responsibility:

  • Health Service capacity remains a finite resource.
  • Please do not share the COVID virus.

In short, and to crowbar this back on track, the message is to: PLAY SAFE!

19th July 2021 … 483 days since Lockdown began

As of today, the Prime Minister remains, “upbeat about easing lockdown in England on 19th July”, with media reports that, “it’s going to be very close to a return to normal life, and “an announcement laying out these details could come as soon as next week”.

19th July remains our target date for resumption of in-store play.

I understand the financial pressures that many businesses are under, I get that a lot of people have basically just “had enough”, but I remain inclined towards the argument that it doesn’t really make sense to have in-store play in an environment where large scale social activity restrictions remain in force.

  • Wizards of the Coast’s embargo on in-store play across Europe is officially lifted from tomorrow (2nd July).
  • Pokemon have yet to announce a date for lifting their current restrictions.

Assuming that nothing changes1 in the next couple of weeks:

  • In-store gaming will resume from Monday, 19th July 2021.
  • KeyForge will resume on Tuesday, 20th July 2021, perhaps alongside something for Arkham Horror (if enough people are interested).
  • In-store Friday Night Magic play will return from Friday, 23rd July 2021. WotC have also just announced changes to the MTG Arena @ Home programme, so I’ll make a separate post for where we are with Magic Organized Play in general. WotC have something planned from 16th July, but this appears to be the earliest date on which we could receive it – and when does that ever happen – so, even if it turns out to be true, we’ll probably resume on 23rd July 2021.

Note that, across the board, this will not simply be a return to normal. It is not practical to just pick up where we left off after a 16 month interuption. Under normal circumstances, things would have changed during that period and, in some sense, we are now effectively starting again from scratch.

What we run, how, and when we run it, will inevitably be a little different, but that’s all too long and complicated for this update.

More to follow …

–Steven @ Clifton Road Games, Exeter

1 “Assuming nothing changes”. Oh, how we laughed! Still, we can only make plans based on the information we have (or can maybe sort of guess at).