Dear Fellow Members,

Given the current escalating Coronavirus outbreak, I am writing to advise on not only good practice from a Public Health point of view at District level, but also the current SBU position on the likely safety of bridge players attending the Overseas Congress in Majorca in May and the possible viability of our first home Congress of the year in Stirling in July.

Generally, the SBU is following the recommendations provided by the World Health Organisation, the Foreign & Commonwealth Office, Public Health Scotland, the Scottish Government and, in respect to the Overseas Congress, the Spanish Ministry of Health, Bridge Overseas and our Insurers.

The Scottish Office warn that they expect the situation in Scotland to change in a matter of hours or days.

Meanwhile, whilst travel is not restricted in your area, at Club and District level we suggest that Clubs follow the advice in the linked booklet from Health Protection Scotland (updated 13 Mar 2020)

With regard to the Overseas Congress, there is no evidence that travel at this point of time to Majorca poses an unacceptable risk. It is clear that if we pulled out at any point without the backing of one of the named Health Organisations, the FCO or the Scottish Government we would not be covered for any financial loss.

BO has made it clear that at present it sees no reason to cancel. I have asked Simon Kelly, however, if he can check the Country of Residence of all players. He advises also, as a Travel Agency, they are obliged to ask participants their recent travel history.

On the other hand, Council may feel that we have a responsibility to weigh up the possible risks of an escalating situation resulting in players becoming ill, or at best being quarantined abroad.

At the very least we may be best to request if BO intend to check the current Health status of participants, with the intention of considering disallowing travel. We would expect BO to have their own Health Advisors on this.

Separately and of more immediate concern, today, Simon Kelly of bridge Overseas told me that he is likely to consider in the next week whether or not he should “pull” the Stirling Congress. Although he would not do anything without consultation with us, he states that this is ultimately his prerogative.

His reasons are twofold, the lateness of a usable Brochure being produced for the Congress and ongoing uncertainty over personnel, has resulted in this event not yet being marketed from his end and only recently at ours. He feels quite strongly that a combination of this and the threat of coronavirus could very well result on the event anyway not being viable. He would wish to pull out from an economic point of view sooner rather than later.

Dr. Joan Forsyth

pp SBU