Guidelines for resuming Armoured Combat

Lady Agnes des Illes, Insulae Draconis Knight Marshal

Guidelines for resuming Armoured Combat activities in Insulae Draconis following Covid-19 pandemic

These guidelines are based on initial work compiled by Lord Ranulf li Norreis and Master Cernac the Navigator as well as on the discussion that took place at a marshals meeting conducted by zoom on 18 July 2020.

Insulae Draconis mundanely consists of the Republic of Ireland, the United Kingdom, and Iceland. Each of these areas has had very different approaches to handling the pandemic and very different rates of infections as well as deaths. Consequently, each area is at a different stage of the pandemic and has different regulations and restrictions in place in terms of controlling the virus.

It is, therefore, impossible to publish a detailed timeline regarding resuming armoured combat in each area. It is recommended that SCA groups in each mundane jurisdiction primarily refer to their own government’s regulations and restrictions, as well as seek advice from appropriate sports bodies on the issue of resuming and conducting sporting activities. Each group will have to choose the resumption date that is best for them, based on their own risk assessment of their practice location. This means that groups may return to practice on different dates throughout the Principality. This also means that based on local conditions, some groups may choose to return to in-person practices much later than other groups.

Further it is advisable that each SCA group put together, publish, and follow their own procedures for safe resumption of activities and treat these procedures as a living document that will be actively updated as the virus situation develops in their area. The below may be used as a starting point.

“Practice” below refers to an official shire fight practice or an armoured combat activity (training or tourney) at an event. Please note: It is strongly recommended that event organisers refrain from organising tourneys of standard format (fighting full speed, using single-handed weapons and getting close to the opponent) for the moment.

Administration

  • Maintain awareness of your government’s guidelines regarding contact sports and follow them.
  • Each practice and each event with armoured combat should have a designated Covid-19 safety officer overseeing the necessary procedures. This does not necessarily need to be the person running the practice or a marshal. Consider sharing the load and appoint a person who does not already have a regular role of responsibility in your practices. The person designated for this role for each practice must attend the relevant practice.
  • Record attendance at each practice in order to enable contact tracing. Ideally this record is kept electronically.
  • If your government has published a Covid-19 contact tracing app, please require all the attendees with smartphones to enable it.
  • If you charge a fee for practice attendees, explore options to take the payment electronically in order to avoid handling cash.
  • In preference, practice outdoors, but if this is not possible, maintain social distancing (2 m) in any indoor practice space (see below) outside sparring situations. Limit attendee numbers if necessary.
  • No piece of loaner gear must be used by more than one person at any given practice and must be quarantined for 5 days after use. It is recommended that loaner armour be sorted in full kits and kept in separate bags. It is strongly recommended that each participant should only ever wear one helmet, either their own or a loaner designated to that individual’s use alone.
  • Ensure extra time for set up and takedown.
  • Practice leaders/marshals should invite anyone who may be in a high risk group to make themselves privately known, in full confidence. Such persons should be encouraged to discuss their needs with the practice leaders and the discussion can agree how/whether such needs can be met within the current government guidelines.

Covid-19 Kit

For each practice or armoured combat event, please bring the following:

  • Hand sanitiser and handsoap
  • Sanitiser for use on gear and furniture
  • Bags for compartmentalising different kits of loaner gear
  • Disposable face masks
  • Disposable gloves.

Before practice

  • Set up a system to pre-register attendees. This may be something informal like whatsapp, FB chat, etc, or a full pre-booking with payment.
  • On the day, the attendees need to declare their status regarding contact with or symptoms of Covid-19 in the preceding 14 days. This should take place before they arrive at practice and may be done in any way including but not limited to online questionnaire or the usual practice communication channel. If an attendee has had contact with or symptoms of Covid-19 in the preceding 14 days, they must not attend practice in person.
  • Follow your government guidelines in terms of travelling to and from practice.
  • Attendees should arrive in as ready state to train as possible in order to minimise the need to change.
  • All attendees are to sanitise their hands on entering the venue. Place hand sanitiser where it’s readily available.
  • Attendees must bring their own water bottles and there must be no sharing of water or other refreshments.
  • If your practice space has a kitchen, it is recommended that it be kept closed during practice.
  • If your practice takes place indoors, open windows (and doors if possible) to maximise ventilation.
  • Sanitise door handles and any other parts of the venue that are likely to be touched repeatedly.

Inspections

  • Inspections are to be carried out visually at the distance of 2 m wherever possible.
  • If the marshal needs to step closer than 2 m of the fighter, both should be wearing face masks for the duration of the inspection.
  • Examine all equipment for damage visually only as far as possible
  • Marshal should ask the fighter to demonstrate that they are wearing sufficient kidney, joint, and neck protection if these are not ordinarily visible.
  • If visual inspection, demonstration and discussion with the fighter are not sufficient and the marshal needs to ascertain the safety of a piece of equipment by touch, it is recommended that they use a prop to do this (e.g. tapping kidney protection gently with a sword).
  • When checking for the safety of a helmet, the marshal may ask the fighter to lean their face grill against a sword or spear tip or similar. If this does not produce a conclusive result, the marshal may inspect the helm in the normal manner using their hand if (a) the marshal’s hand is covered, ideally with a disposable glove; and if (b) both the marshal and the fighter are wearing face masks.
  • Marshals are encouraged to double check on the health of each fighter they are inspecting. In addition to questions such as “Are you carrying any injuries?” and “Do you feel safe?”, ask, “How are you feeling?” or similar.

During practice

  • Preference for training is to be given to solo drills, socially distanced pair drills, and slow work.
  • Set a time limit for any sparring faster than half speed (inclusive). Fighting full speed is discouraged for the foreseeable future.
  • It is recommended that fighting full speed is reserved for fighters using spears and greatweapons to maximise the distance between fighters.
  • Avoid activities which could put participants in each others’ slipstream, such as running along the edge.
  • All explanations by the class leaders will be from a distance, where possible. This may require staggering explanations when two different classes are being carried on.
  • Mixing of training partners is to be minimised. Ideally train with the same partner for the session. Mix partners for the next class to avoid forming habitual responses.
  • If any attendee begins to feel unwell or express any of the symptoms associated with Covid-19, the practice is to close immediately and all attendees should go home. At events, please refer to the event policy on suspected cases.
  • Each attendee is responsible for sanitising the equipment they have used at the end of the practice session. The designated Covid-19 officer must supervise this.
  • In terms of face masks, please follow your government’s guidelines. However, should even one participant request that masks be worn, everyone present should do so. Provide disposable masks to those who may not have brought their own.

After practice

After the practice, attendees should depart as swiftly as possible, avoiding any congregation in groups.

The Covid-19 safety officer and the practice leader should ensure that everything necessary has been sanitised and safely packed away.

If any attendee at practice has symptoms or is diagnosed with covid-19, or discovers after the practice that they had had contact with the virus prior to attending but had not known this at the time, attendees are to be informed that they may have been exposed to the virus. No practice is to take place for 14 days and all the attendees are to restrict their movements as per their government’s guidelines.

On informing the attendees of a possible contact, respect the possible contact’s privacy and do not name names. You can simply say, “We had a suspected case/contact at practice on x date”.

Further notes

  • At no point should anyone who chooses to not attend practices or participate in parts of practice due to Covid-19 concerns be made feel bad or guilty due to their choice. Each person must make their own risk assessment regarding participation in group activities.
  • There is to be no shaming of anyone wearing masks or requesting masks to be worn.
  • Groups are encouraged to think of social distanced ways to keep up their fighting community and skills, for example by means of online practices.
  • Groups should emphasise communication between practice attendees. Everyone should feel that they are free to disclose any of their symptoms or possible contacts without causing a negative reaction directed at their person. Open, frank and quick communication ensures that the risk to be infected is minimised even as the continuation of practices is enabled.
  • Every person attending armoured combat practices is responsible for minimising the risks as far as they can. If an attendee is found in constant breach of Covid-19 guidelines, the practice leaders should ask that person to refrain from attending practices.
  • Resuming SCA martial activity will require new arrangements and unfamiliar restrictions. We ask that all participants support their group, Principality, and Kingdom officers as we try to re-introduce our beloved game in accordance with public health guidance.