09/04/2021- Covid 19

Organised Fencing Guidelines (England) 12th April

BF publishes updated guidelines for affiliated clubs, coaches and members when running and participating in all Organised Fencing activity in England from 12th April.

Updated Guidelines Published

Following on from the updated government and Sport England guidelines, BF has reviewed and updated it’s  Return to Fencing guidelines – BF Return to Fencing – Fencing Guidelines England Roadmap 12th April v1.0. These guidelines set out all the measures and adaptations that members, coaches and affiliated clubs are expected to follow to allow fencing to resume under the Organised Sport definition.

An Organised Fencing activity is one that is delivered by a BF affiliated club or registered coach, delivered to BF members, under BF policies, procedures and guidelines.

As the Roadmap progresses and we receive more confirmation and clarity over future steps we will be updating the guidelines. For context, the summary of the full roadmap (in relation to fencing) can be found here.

The bulk of the guidelines remain unchanged from the previous version published in December. Content has been restructured and re-ordered to align with the published roadmap guidance.  Where content has materially changed this is indicated in the document in yellow.


Fencing activity permitted from the 12th April

Organised Outdoor Fencing will continue as in Step 1. The only change is that spectators are permitted on public land in socially distanced groups of 6/2 households. For full details see here.

Organised Indoor Fencing will restart in 12th April. This is restricted to:

  • U18s (as at 31/08/20) in bubbles of up to 15.
  • 1:1 lessons (delivered by registered coaches) for adults can take place indoors

BF Return to Fencing – Fencing Guidelines England Roadmap 12th April v1.0 contains more detailed information.


  • For all sparring ‘bubbles’, time/hit limits must remain in place (see below).
  • If coaches are giving 1:1 lessons or if any official (coach, welfare officer) is sparring, they count as part of the bubble. Please remember the best practice ratio for club fencing of 12 children : 1 coach.
  • For all activities other than sparring/lessons, participants must remain at least 2m apart in clearly marked areas. The distance between neighbouring sparring pairs must be 2m at all times.
  • As well as the venue restrictions, the total number of people within a fencing activity space is limited by the requirement to ensure that all participants can safely stay 2m apart, except when fencing, at which point sparring pairs must be 2m apart from any neighbouring sparring pairs at all times (and the sparring bubble limit of 15 comes into effect). Where multiple sparring bubbles exist, these bubbles must be able to operate independently as two or more separate organised groups.


Face Coverings/Mask Liners *UPDATED*

  • Outside – Face coverings and/or mask liners are no longer required when fencing outside although participants may choose to continue using these.
  • Individuals can choose to use face coverings under fencing masks (please see additional guidance here)
  • Indoors – In the absence of face coverings, fencing mask liners are recommended (but not required) for community groups consisting of fencers aged 11 and over when participating in 1:1 lessons and sparring.


Fencing Specific Adaptations

  • *UPDATED* Fleching and close quarter moves within sparring and lessons is permitted subject to a safety/competency risk assessment to be performed by the BF registered coach to ensure that there is sufficient surrounding space and competency levels for the move to be executed safely, with no body contact whilst maintaining 2m distancing from any other sparring pairs and immediately returning/passing to 2m distance after performing the move. The coach is responsible for risk assessing this and in conjunction with the COVID-19 Officer agreeing and noting any further mitigation actions (e.g. reduced sparring/lesson time, no fleching) on the club risk assessment.
  • Corps a corps and any actions that result in body contact are not permitted.
  • No physical contact should be made between participants (handshaking, high fives etc). The handshaking rule is suspended. Fencers should replace the end of bout handshake with a salute observing 2m social distancing.
  • Participants should avoid any shouting/screaming/conversing loudly, particularly during 1:1 activity.
  • Footwork/warm-up exercises must respect 2m social distancing at all times and should not be performed face to face indoors.


Other Points

  • No spectators inside. This does not apply to carers for disabled people, or adults needed to supervise under-18s in a safeguarding role. Where it is necessary for them to be present,  supervising adults should not mix with others from outside their household or support bubble.
  • These updated guidelines also sit alongside the newly updated Equipment Hygiene Protocols.


As a reminder all other requirements (as published here) remain in place including:

  • COVID Officer and Risk Assessment must be in place
  • Retention of information required to support Test and Trace.
  • Hygiene measures remain in place (individual and equipment protocols)
  • Time/Hit Limits between individual pairs still exists. Up to 2 x 15 hits OR 5 x 5 hits, up to a maximum of 20mins of fencing time and 30 mins of elapsed time.  Extra care must be taken to ensure that after each hit, fencers immediately return to a position where they are 2m or more apart. When it is not possible to count hits (e.g. adapted pairs training), the appropriate fencing/elapsed time must be set by the coach and in no cases exceed 20mins/30mins respectively.


More information can be found here – Frequently asked questions on the national coronavirus restrictions | Sport England


If you have any queries regarding this and other announcements please contact us using this form. Many of the queries we receive are answered in our guidance and resources here so we strongly recommend reading this in advance of contacting us.


BF will continue to update our COVID-19 advice here.  You can also subscribe to our new weekly summary email featuring the previous week’s latest news and announcements. Sign up here.

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