u3a - England Activities Advice

1. Document Control

2. Introduction

2.1. Purpose

The Third Age Trust has put together its guidance on coronavirus as related to the movement. We continue to follow the government and NHS advice and will keep you updated with regular mailings when the advice changes.

2.2. Scope

Relevant to all u3as in England

2.3. Related documentation

3. Covid road map for easing Lockdown in England and FAQs
 

Please note:- there are now a significant number of areas that have the Indian Variant and the government are varying their guidance for these 

In the areas listed above, wherever possible, you should try to:

  • meet outside rather than inside where possible
  • keep 2 metres apart from people that you don’t live with (unless you have formed a support bubble with them), this includes friends and family you don’t live with
  • minimise travelling into and out of affected areas unless it is essential, for example for work (if you cannot work from home) or education

 

https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/covid-19-response-spring-2021/covid-19-response-spring-2021-summary

https://www.gov.uk/guidance/coronavirus-covid-19-safer-travel-guidance-for-passengers#private-cars-and-other-vehicles

Meanwhile elsewhere in England the priority focus of the Government has been getting young people back into school, enabling college and university students to return. Meanwhile to continue with the successful vaccine program rollout. Although dates have been provided these dates are provisional and dependent on the data results coming back after each easing measure. Everyone must check the latest government information at each stage before assuming these dates will go ahead.

ENGLAND

Provisional guidance only. Dependent on Government review after each step of lockdown easing

From 17th May

From 19th July (planned)

How many people outdoors Most legal restrictions on meeting others outdoors in groups up to 30 will be lifted.  

All legal limits on social contact to be removed.

But must continue to comply with

‘Hands, face. space’

And any Covid-Secure measures that remain in place.
Meeting indoors

6 people or two households can meet indoors. This would permit small interest groups and hybrid groups to be run from members’ homes.

In covid-secure venues multiple groups of 6 could meet within the advised covid-secure capacity limits for the venue. Groups must not mix with other groups.

Travel Domestic Overnight stays will be permitted indicating the stay local guidance will be lifted. Car sharing (6/2 households) is now confirmed.  Travel restrictions will be lifted although still need to check cross border permissions between Scotland and Wales
Permitted activities

Most businesses following covid-secure guidance and space limitations will re-open. Indoor entertainment venues like cinemas, indoor adult group sport and exercise classes will resume. Some larger performances and events will be permitted. Social distancing to be clarified closer to time. 

Organised sports groups can resume as long as they are following the specific covid guidance from the sport’s National Governing Body.

The ambition is to open all remaining businesses, ease restrictions on larger events and activities. All will be subject to careful review of the scientific evidence and the safety measures that may be deemed necessary for us to live safely with Covid.

 

3.1 What is the procedure I must follow in order to resume my interest group activities face to face?

It is imperative that we follow the government guidance as we move through the steps of lockdown easing. Their aim is to be guided by the evidence at each step of the road map and we must follow their lead and recommendations at all times, remaining vigilant and flexible to their latest guidance whilst planning for the return journey for the members in our various interest groups.

To summarise the u3a procedure for resuming an activity or interest group is as follows:-

  1. Inform your committee of your plans and preparations for resuming
  2. Where appropriate download and follow a relevant Risk Assessment from a National Governing Body for your sporting activity (see links below) or use an appropriate u3a risk assessment template for your activity.
  3. Inform your members of what to expect and how to prepare for returning
  4. Ask members to complete a personal assessment (pre-attendance) before attending.
  5. Please ensure you are following the most current government guidance on social distancing, and maintaining Covid-secure requirements at all times. For instance, you may be required to continue to keep a register of participants for 21 days after the activity for Track and Trace beyond the roadmap.

3.2 What do we do if a member is not having the vaccine for health or personal reasons?

At present, there is no mandate from the Government that people must have the vaccine therefore the Trust will not be issuing any requirements that members must have the vaccine or that they can’t take part in activities without having had their vaccines.

3.3 When can we restart our walking groups

We have been following the Ramblers Covid guidance for our u3a organised walking groups and have issued the following statement for organized walking groups:-
"It has been confirmed by the UK government that organised sport and physical activity, which include Ramblers group walks, can also resume from the 29 March, and are exempt from legal gathering limits."
If you can follow the procedure outlined above for resuming a u3a activity group using the Ramblers Risk Assessment for Walking groups then you can resume groups where safe in England for up to 30 participants.

3.4 What constitutes organised outdoor sport and physical activity

Organised outdoor sport and physical activity must be formally organised by a qualified instructor, club, national governing body, company or charity and follow sport-specific guidance where appropriate.

3.5 What activities are included as organised sport and physical activities

Organised outdoor sports and group activities include outdoor exercise classes, group cycle rides, walking groups, tennis, golf, horse riding, water sports for example, however for each of these activities you must following the sport-specific guidance provided by the NGB for returning to play.

3.6 How will I know if my particular sport/activity of choice has been sanctioned to resume play in larger group sizes from 17th May?

The threshold on participant numbers will be decided by each national governing body (NGB) or organising organisation and will follow Covid-secure guidance. 

3.7 What does it mean for sports and activities that are not formally organised, or where the sport-specific guidance is not being followed?

This would be considered to be informal or self-organised sport and will need to follow the guidance on outdoor legal gathering limits.

3.8 Where can I get information about return to play from National Governing Bodies of sports organisations

The link will take you to a list of some of these bodies in England
https://www.sportandrecreation.org.uk/pages/national-governing-bodies

3.9 When can we resume playing golf?

Resumption of golf play on 29th March when you will have a choice of playing with up to four players, maximum group size will be 6, unlimited rounds of golf although clubs may Impose their own restrictions for fairness and to meet the demand of all members. https://www.englandgolf.org/

3.10 When can u3a interest groups resume face to face meetings indoors?

Small groups following the ‘rule of 6’ could begin to start meeting from the 17th May in private homes, following social distancing in-line with space capacity limitations for your home. It is important to remember that there is no obligation for Interest Group Leaders to resume groups in their own homes, they may have their own health and family concerns that might prevent them from resuming at this time and it is important not to place any pressure on people to resume activities they do not feel comfortable to undertake. If a group leader is not comfortable to resume activities in their home then an alternative venue should be sort.

 

4. Advice on participation in u3a activities and Covid-19 tests

4.1  Many u3as are beginning to start some face to face activity within the guidelines in their nations. Some members of u3as remain concerned about the pandemic while some venues used by u3as have now introduced additional requirements for usage. The Trust has taken advice on what u3as may do.

The starting point for all advice to u3as is that at all times you must follow the advice given in your nation. In addition you must ensure that a risk assessment is undertaken before commencing any u3a group activity and you should share this with your committee. Additionally, all members should be encouraged to undertake their personal risk assessments to inform their decision of whether to participate. Note the personal risk assessment is for your own benefit and does not need to be shared with anyone else.

There are some queries regarding additional measures that go beyond the relevant government advice. These are laid out below. Each u3a must make its own decision whether it wishes to require any additional measures or use a facility that requires additional measures over and above the relevant government advice. If a u3a decides to impose additional measures the committee should note the measures in a committee meeting, giving a full explanation for them, and detailing how they relate to the risk assessment that has resulted in imposing them.

4.2 Can a venue impose a requirement that all participants using the venue have a clear Covid test before using the facilities?

Yes the venue can undertake a health and safety risk assessment and introduce measures that they feel will reduce the risk of transmission of Covid and include this as a requirement.

4.3 Can a u3a lawfully run the event without contravening our constitutions or any equality legislation in a venue that imposes such restrictions?"

Yes it is possible to use that venue. The reason is that the policy of requiring participants to provide a clear Covid test within 48 hours of attending the event is unlikely to constitute indirect discrimination or disability discrimination. The owner/operator is entitled to put in place reasonably practicable controls and measures to minimise the risk of transmission of coronavirus, even if these are more onerous than the requirements specified by HM Government or the Health and Safety Executive, so long as they amount to proportionate means of achieving a legitimate aim, the aim in this case being to protect against Covid-19.

 The policy is a general one, rather than targeted, and most, if not all, delegates should be capable of taking a test. Whilst the policy is clearly a robust control measure, it is unlikely to be seen as disproportionate given the significant risks posed by coronavirus or discriminatory and therefore unlawful. The position would be different if the owner/operator of the venue only permitted participants who had been vaccinated. This would not comply with equality of access.

4.4 Would we have to require the participants to provide the venue with their details of a Covid free test directly?

The answer is yes given that u3as are not authorised to process or store personal sensitive data. The trustee / u3a committee member who is arranging the event or use of the space should speak to the venue owner/operator to understand the procedures in place to be able to advise participants what they have to do.

4.5 If a u3a required covid clear testing proof prior to getting on a coach, or attending an interest group in a home or in hall, (in other words the request was from one of  our charities rather than the venue or the coach provider) would the u3a charity be entitled to impose this restrictions under the same H&S and equality legislation?

Yes a u3a could do this.

4.6 If they are entitled would they be allowed to show evidence of a clear test to the group leader (eg like showing a passport at customs control)  on the basis it would only be shown and not collected or stored on any data base?

Yes a u3a could do this.

4.7 Can a u3a impose a requirement that all participants attending an interest group MUST have either a clear Covid test OR proof of both vaccinations before participating?

The u3a must in any event follow all government guidance on covid such as social distancing.

And they must follow the normal risk assessments when considering the health and safety of an event.

However if they decide, in addition, to introduce a rule that required each u3a member to show on entry to an activity that they had either proof of vaccination or a clear covid test on the basis they wished to minimise the possibility of transmission infection in this age group mainly 70 plus then this is advised to be acceptable under equality legislation as long as the rule applies to all members.

4.8 Can it also apply to outdoor activity?

A u3a must still go through the same process, follow the relevant government guidance and undertake a risk assessment.

If under the outdoor activity risk assessment they still feel this is important to minimise the risk transmission and have noted that this is a risk in the operation of that interest group, then they may adopt the same approach. This would require a rule that required each u3a member to show on entry to an activity that they had either  proof of vaccination or a clear covid test on the basis they wished to minimise the possibility of transmission infection in this age group mainly 70 plus This is advised to be acceptable under equality legislation as long as the rule applies to all members.

4.9 Where can I get hold of Lateral Flow Test kits?

Please note: You can order Lateral Flow Test kits through the Government by following the link below and completing the online form or they can be obtained from your local Boots chemist.

Get tested for coronavirus (COVID-19) - NHS (www.nhs.uk)

 

5. Initial guidance for resuming indoor activities from Step Three

5.1 Rule of 6 interest groups  

At step 3 permitted activities can take place within Covid-secure venues within the capacity limits set. People will still be required to socially distance from others not in their household. Venue management and activity organisers should as part of their preparations check the Covid-secure capacity limits when planning to resume indoor activities.

We have been advised that if  Step 3 proceeds as planned, u3as could organise multiple groups of 6 in the same space, as long as they do not interact with anyone outside the group of 6 they are attending with.

5.2 Independent attendance for Charity Business Meetings

There is further guidance to indicate that meetings such as u3a AGMS could take place from step 3 in Covid-secure public and community buildings where participants would each be socially distancing and attending as ‘independent attendees’ following the necessary social distancing, safety protocols and remaining within set Covid-capacity limits. This is supported by guidance on performance events and on public meetings (organised events for local authorities guidance) that are permitted to resume from Step 3. Each u3a would need to undertake a risk assessment for this.
re-opening-information-sheet-v.10-april-2021-2.pdf (acre.org.uk)

5.3 What safety protocols should be in place for indoor activities

The Social Distancing requirements: Reducing risk of transmission remains essential. Government Guidance on safe opening of community facilities emphasises the importance of ensuring adherence to social distancing of 2 metres or 1 metre with risk mitigation (where 2m is not viable), such as face coverings, good hygiene, and ventilation. Those leasing the venue you are using should have identified an advisory limit on the maximum numbers able to use the facility

Face Coverings: Face coverings must be worn inside village and community halls. The Department of Health and Social Care confirmed to ACRE that: “On entering a village hall, you will be required to wear a face covering, and will be required to keep it on, unless you are covered under a ‘reasonable excuse’.

Managing Seating: Seating needs to be provided in a way which ensures social distancing can be maintained between individuals or groups, which should be no more than 6 unless they are a group of two households. 

5.4 What must u3a members who organise groups and events do

Check with the venue management for information about their Covid Secure procedures and Covid-capacity limits of space and hall hire.

Complete a risk assessment and produce a plan for your activity that takes into account appropriate spacing and seating, management of members on arrival and departure, following the u3a procedure for resuming an activity or event which is as follows:-

  1. Complete an appropriate risk assessment/check for your activity and submit to your groups coordinator or Committee prior to resuming an activity
  2. Inform your committee of your plans and preparations for resuming the activity
  3. Share this initial risk assessment with your members so they know what to expect and how to prepare for returning
  4. Ask members to consider their own circumstances before undertaking to join the activity
  5. Please ensure you are following the most current government recommendations and guidance on social distancing, and maintaining Covid-secure requirements at all times. For instance, you will be required to continue to keep a register of participants for 21 days after the activity for Track and Trace beyond the roadmap.