The Third Age Trust has put together its guidance on coronavirus as relates to the movement. We continue to follow the government and NHS advice and will keep you updated with regular mailings when the advice changes.
The process remains as before, any U3A wishing to restart activity must carry out an appropriate risk assessment/checklist to ensure the activity is safe for members to participate in. The conclusion of the risk assessment/checklist will determine what actions must be taken to make the activity safe or conclude it is not yet safe to restart even with additional measures in place. Government guidelines continue to be central to any risk assessment and must be adhered to. Each U3A activity, venue and circumstance is different and must be assessed as such.
Whilst lockdown restrictions have been eased recently it is clear only very limited outdoor U3A activity can even be considered at present. Even whilst an activity may be managed so that it is deemed safe to restart, activity or take part.
As from Monday 1 June 2020 Government guidance for England about Covid-19 changed.
The whole advice can be found at https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/staying-alert-and-safe-social-distancing/staying-alert-and-safe-social-distancing
1. Key Points from Government Website:
1.1 For the general public who are fit and well
In line with scientific advice that the risk of transmitting the virus is much lower outside, the Government is permitting more social activity outside. You can spend time outdoors with members of your own household and, from Monday 1 June, you can meet in a gathering of up to six people you do not live with. This can be in a public outdoor space, or in a private garden or uncovered yard or terrace.
The more people you have interactions with, the more chances we give the virus to spread. When seeing friends and family outdoors:
It would be sensible to keep the total number of people you see limited – especially over short periods of time
When you leave your home, you should follow the guidelines on staying safe outside your home.
Most importantly, this includes the key advice that you should stay two metres apart from anyone outside of your household.
Face coverings can help us protect each other and reduce the spread of the disease if you are in an enclosed space where social distancing is difficult and where you will come into contact with people you do not normally meet, for example – if using public transport to access activities.
If you are showing coronavirus symptoms, or if you or any of your household are self-isolating (including if you have been contacted by the test and trace programme), you should stay at home – this is critical to staying safe and saving lives.
1.2 People aged over 70 and those who are clinically vulnerable
Some people, including those aged 70 and over, those with specific chronic pre-existing conditions and pregnant women, are clinically vulnerable, meaning they are at higher risk of severe illness from coronavirus. As we begin to ease restrictions, this group who are clinically vulnerable should continue to take particular care to minimise contact with others outside their household.
There is a further group of people who are defined, also on medical grounds, as clinically extremely vulnerable to coronavirus – that is, people with specific serious health conditions. They are advised to continue shielding to keep themselves safe by staying at home and avoiding gatherings or, if individuals wish to spend time outdoors, to take extra care to minimise contact with others by keeping two metres apart at all times.
2. Points to Note:
- The government is still asking all people to consider the amount of contact that they have with others even within the six person limitation.
- There are further considerations as to the amount of external contact if you are over 70 or clinically vulnerable or clinically extremely vulnerable.
- It is important to consider any activity against this government advice which for everyone is to minimize contact with others as much as possible.
3. Risk assessment:
To make an assessment of whether you should undertake any activity our advice is that it is important to carry out a risk assessment as you would do for any U3A activity.
In the case of resuming an outdoor U3A exercise activity there would be two elements to any risk assessment to be considered. It is strongly advised that you record any assessment before taking part in activity.
The first part of the risk assessment is to identify the overall hazards and risks involved in the actual activity you intend taking part in and how the Government guidelines are accommodated in how you will undertake the activity. In particular the clear advice from Government about ensuring social distancing and how this will be maintained throughout the activity.
Secondly we would strongly advise that each person participating undertakes a personal participation risk assessment considering the Covid-19 risks and hazards that taking part poses to the individual. Our advice is that It is imperative that everyone completes a personal assessment of this nature and records it.
This is important because there are differing requirements for
- people with different health conditions – clinically vulnerable, or clinically extremely vulnerable
- people of different ages
- members living in a household where there is someone who is considered clinically vulnerable, or clinically extremely vulnerable and therefore has limitations on contact with others.
Our advice is that a personal participation risk assessment should take into consideration a person’s physical health and any underlying issues, age and the health and circumstances of those they may be living with or isolating with in their household.
These restrictions may change over time we advise you to check the current Government guidelines if in doubt.