Following increasing levels of Coronavirus cases across the UK there have been further amendments and restrictions put in place across each Nation of the British Isles. The National U3A website now has a handy table which shows at-a-glance what the new three tier system means for the different areas across England.
This is updated advice from TAT for groups restarting/operating under Covid19. It is also available on the TAT website. This updated guidance reflects the changes to Government Covid 19 Guidance introduced on 14.09.2020 including the “rule of six” which now makes non-compliance a criminal offence.
Interest groups can only meet if they have followed all government guidance and done a risk assessment.
Members should do their own risk assessment before meeting with their group
Please can Group Leaders let the Chair know as well as the website if they are restarting
Changes with effect from 14.09.2020
Interest groups can now meet inside member’s homes as well as in gardens providing no more than 6 members meet and there is compliance with guidance about “hands, face, space and cleaning” as part of the risk assessment.
Organised outside activity groups should now comply with the rule of six as well. However walking groups should note that the Ramblers Association guidance still allows groups of more than six and so if our walking groups have a plan in line with the Ramblers guidance then the increased numbers are still allowed.
We presume that members will remain cautious about face to face contacts but please do contact the Chair if you wish to discuss any of this further.
A statement from Bristol U3A's Chair - Advice for Group Leaders and Group Members
New guidance dated 20th August 2020 about running groups during Covid-19 is now available on the national U3A website's Advice page.
When you open this link you will need to create an account (free!) unless you have done so previously. You may have to go back to their Home page to do this. Initially, getting into this national website to look at the advice can be a frustrating experience but please persevere as once you have an account it does get easier! Group Leaders and group members should check for updates regularly.
Some face to face activity is possible under this new guidance and the Committee wants to support group leaders and members to participate in their U3A interest groups as much as possible as lockdown is eased. Many of our groups meet in members’ homes and we have to accept that is unlikely that this will be allowed for some while to come. Despite this we want to be as creative as possible about enabling activities while following all the government rules, and keeping everyone safe and well.
The first step is to clarify responsibilities between the Committee, Group Coordinators, Group leaders and members about restarting groups safely:
• National U3A (Third Age Trust) provides overall advice on government Covid rules as they apply to U3A groups.
• Bristol U3A informs members, Group Leaders and Group Coordinators of the latest advice, the importance of following government guidance and provides support to groups to make plans and risk assessments.
• Group Leaders, supported by Group Coordinators, are responsible for making plans for their groups to meet within the regulations and advice, undertaking risk assessments, informing and engaging group members about plans, and reminding members of the risks and rules.
• Group members are responsible for their own risk assessment and deciding what it is safe for them to do with their group based on the Leader’s risk assessment and plan. Everyone in a group has to take responsibility for following advice and rules.
Note: We recognise that some people consider the government guidance to be excessive and in parts, contradictory. However, it is important that all meetings of U3A groups comply with the latest advice (which has a legal basis) and Group Leaders resist the urge to “tweak” or “bend” the rules.
The latest guidance introduces the following changes:
1. The risk assessment form has been updated to include Track and Trace.
2. Walking groups can now have up to 30 people, providing they follow the extensive guidance set out by The Ramblers Association and accepted by the TAT. The Ramblers have done substantial work to plan and risk assess walking activities. The figure of 30 is an absolute maximum, and other issues such as limited car parking may be a constraint.
3. Other groups that meet for outdoor activities can set out detailed plans and risk assessments to cover groups of up to 30 people, building on the Ramblers advice. For example, much of the activity of our Birdwatching and Geology groups consists of rural outdoor walking.
4. Indoor groups must not meet in members’ homes until further notice. We encourage Group Leaders to make plans for the autumn. They can continue, or start, meeting online via Zoom, Skype, WhatsApp etc. (For help on using these technologies, see our Ways to Keep in Touch page.) Also they can now consider meeting in Community Halls and other venues that have adopted plans to make themselves Covid Secure. These plans will detail all the measures they have put in place and what they expect of those using their premises such as: the maximum number of people who may use a room; requirements for the use of face coverings; refreshments and cleaning arrangements.
The Committee and Group Coordinators want to assist groups thinking of exploring any of these options. Please remember to keep us informed of your plans and to let the Website Editor know of any changes to your group activity.