With the panic in the country surrounding COVID-19 (Coronavirus) right now, people have been wary about attending events that put people into confined environments for long periods of time. You might be worried about whether you should attend your weekly bingo night! If you're not already a regular and want to start getting into bingo, you might be wondering if now's the best time?
At the time of writing there have been 278 confirmed cases of Coronavirus in the UK, so it may seem like there's an increased risk. In Surrey, 25 people have had to self-isolate due to a confirmed case of Coronavirus at a bingo hall, so there’s definitely reason for concern, especially as regular bingo hall visitors could contain those who are at risk.
For many, bingo is more than just a way to gamble. It’s a social event that brings people together to catch up and play a game together, for some it’s a chance to get out of the house or take a break from their everyday lives, so they might not want to give it up. If this is the case, then there are ways that you can still enjoy bingo whilst keeping yourself and your family safe.
Important note: If you have travelled to any of the countries that have been affected (including Italy, China or the rest of Asia) in the past few weeks then you should be self-isolating already as per the NHS guidelines. This guide is a list of preventative measures for those who want to keep safe, not professional medical advice for those who are already potentially exposed. If you require real medical advice, read the NHS website, call your local GP or call 111. With that being said, here’s our advice for staying clean and safe when playing bingo at a bingo hall.
You should be washing your hands already, but it’s particularly important right now, especially when you’re in a public place. You should aim to wash your hands after you handle anything that another member of the public may have used, which in a bingo hall could be lots of things. You should try and take tissues and hand sanitiser with you to the bingo hall so you have quick access if you need it.
If you cough or sneeze into your hands, you should wash or sanitise them out of courtesy for others. It is recommended that you sneeze into your elbow or a tissue, as this is more hygienic.
Proper hand washing etiquette during an outbreak like this should include plenty of soap and particular care around the fingernails and between the fingers.
Plenty of bingo halls have upgraded from paper tickets and daubers to touchscreen devices that track your tickets, the numbers called and automates the process of finding numbers. It's a lot like playing mobile bingo games, and is a welcome bit of technology that makes the game easier to follow and more accessible to those with differing ability levels.
Whilst these are revolutionising the game for many, in the wake of a global health crisis they are also not the safest tools to use. If the bingo hall still offers the option to play using tickets that you can manually mark off, it’s probably the safer option considering they are disposable and only get used once.
If there is no other option available and you must use one of these touchscreens, it is important that you are washing and sanitising your hands and avoiding touching your face, mouth or eyes after touching the screens.
Bingo halls may provide daubers to use with bingo tickets, but for some added peace of mind you should consider buying and bringing your own dauber. The last thing you want to be doing when you’re being extra careful about the spread of a disease is to use public, shared daubers and rely on other people’s hygiene!
We have a series of dauber guides on Online Bingo that includes information on who sells bingo daubers, which you should check out for more details.
The people most at risk from Coronavirus should be taking the best precautions to ensure they are not coming into contact with the disease. These “at risk” groups include people over the age of 70 and people with pre-existing conditions including cardiovascular disease, diabetes, hypertension and people with a chronic respiratory disease.
It's not our job to tell you what to do, however if you are at risk, you should consider whether it is worth exposing yourself to the disease just to go out and play bingo when there are other options available. If you are at all worried about being at risk, contact your GP or call 111 to get the best advice for you.
If you really want to play bingo but are in one of the at risk groups, or you’re just nervous about spreading the virus just to play bingo, then the safest option is to try playing online bingo sites. Whilst this doesn’t give you the same social experience that a bingo hall does, it does let you enjoy bingo on your phone, tablet or PC without the worry of who last touched the device and whether the last person to sit in your chair washed their hands!