Rule of six: FAQs on how the new Government rules affect basketball

On 22 September, the Government announced a range of new restrictions designed to counter the steep rise in Covid-19 cases.

This has sparked many questions about what this means for basketball, so Basketball England have worked with Sport England and the Government to compile answers below to some of the most common ones.

From Thursday 24 September, adults must adhere to the ‘rule of six’ if they’re playing non-elite team basketball indoors – this means playing in a group of no more than six people from different households.

Junior team basketball can be played indoors, but non-elite adult team basketball will only be allowed to take place with more than six players outdoors.

Disabled people are exempt from the restrictions around indoor team sport to help them stay active.

All basketball activity remains governed by Level 2 of the Basketball England Return To Play Guidance, while taking into consideration the new Government rules.

What is Basketball England doing to look into this further?

We have opened dialogue with the Government to discuss the negative impact of their latest Covid-19 rules on basketball and ascertain if adjustments can be made in a number of areas.

We will update the basketball community as soon as possible.

What is exempt from the rule of six?

Junior basketball - indoor and outdoors

Adult elite basketball - indoors and outdoors

Adult non-elite basketball - outdoors

What does the rule of six apply to?

Adult non-elite basketball - indoors

What is currently defined as elite?

BBL, WBBL, NBL Division One, WNBL Division One, EABL, WEABL, NBL U18 Men & Women Premier

What adult basketball is currently defined as non-elite?

NBL Division Two and WNBL Division Two, NBL Division Three; regional and local leagues; informal basketball 

What is the definition of a child/adult?

Guidance is that those aged 18 and over must adhere to the ‘rule of six’ when playing team sports indoors. The rule does not apply to children aged under 18.

Can adults mix with youth/junior groups when taking part in indoor team basketball to create a group of more than six? E.g. four adults and four children equals eight in total, but only four adults.

No. The rule of six applies to both adults and children.  The exemption for children does not apply to adults over the age of 18. If an adult (aged 18 or over) takes part in organised indoor basketball alongside children (under 18), the 'rule of six' applies, so this can only take place in groups of up to six people (adults and children combined).

Do people from different households participating in adult indoor team basketball have to social distance while adhering to the rule of six?

No, providing it’s being played formally and under BE's government-approved RTP guidance.

Can indoor adult basketball move to being outdoors and maintain numbers, as long as it’s Covid-secure?

Yes. Provided the organisers are conducting activity in line with BE's government-approved RTP guidance, and in line with government guidance,.

Can adult indoor basketball take place with more than six people?

Only at elite level. Since 24 September, the 'rule of six' has applied to adults (over-18s) playing team sports indoors – this means playing in a group of no more than six people from different households.

There is an exemption for disabled people to help them stay active.

Can multiple ‘bubbles’ of six use a facility simultaneously? Eg multiple training ‘bubbles’ in one sports hall

Yes. The ‘rule of six’ applies to organised indoor adult basketball and sets out the number of adults who can be involved in a game or match.

This rule does not prohibit different matches happening simultaneously within the same facility, provided they're following the relevant guidance and that separate groups of participants don't mix. Basketball England guidance is one bubble per half-court.

If separate and distinct groups are likely to mix, these activities should not go ahead.

I coach an under-18s team that plays indoors, and have 17 and 18-year-olds in the team, can they continue to play together?

The exemption from the rule of six, for children's sport, does not apply to adults over the age of 18. If an adult (aged 18 or over) participates in organised indoor sport alongside children (under 18), this is no longer exempt, so this can only take place in groups of up to six people (including both adults and children).

NBL U18 Men and Women Premier is defined as elite, so is exempt from the rule of six. 

NBL U18 Men and Women Conference is defined as non-elite. Players who turn 18 during the season are defined as adults from that point and cannot play with under-18s unless the group confirms to the rule of six.

How does this affect school/college/university basketball?

Most sport in educational settings will be covered by the exemption for supervised activities for children (i.e. under-18s), and so can take place in groups larger than six.

This includes pupils over the age of 18, where the sport is for the purpose of education, such as curriculum sport or playing for school teams.

This includes BUCS, EABL, WEABL, and ABL.

For an update on the ABL, please see the following statement from AoC click HERE

EABL and WEABL are defined as elite.

So, indoor sports can continue without limits on 18+ numbers if they just play in a school facility?

No. This exemption only covers sport for educational purposes.

For adult indoor team basketball, can you still play competitive matches against other teams?

Yes. This change doesn't stop competition, it just means it has to take place in groups of up to six people.

The maximum number of participants in a match or game is six (e.g. 3 vs 3 players), not including match officials or coaches. Basketball England guidance is one bubble per half-court.

For adult indoor team basketball, does the 'rule of six' include coaches, instructors and officials?

No. Where the 'rule of six' applies, match officials, coaches and instructors are exempt, however, they must remain socially distanced from players where possible during play/activity.

Should match officials not be able to remain socially distanced due to their role in the sport, their sport should conduct a risk assessment to see if other mitigations may be necessary.

Is a coach for adult indoor team basketball able to coach multiple groups in back-to-back sessions?

Yes. Workers and volunteers are exempt from the 'rule of six' as it applies to organised indoor team sport, which includes coaches, instructors and officials.

However, sports and venue operators should consider how best to minimise exposure (e.g. by limiting the number of sessions run, or the number of groups coached), as part of their risk assessment.

If a number of adults are required to support junior indoor team sport or activity, can the number exceed the 'rule of six' providing government guidance is followed?

Supervised children’s activity is exempt and this includes adults supervising in a safeguarding role. Parents or other adults who are not acting in a supervisory role are considered to be spectators, and aren't exempt.