u3a - Northern Ireland 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 Northern Ireland

2.3. Related documentation

3. Pathway out of Restrictions


The Northern Ireland pathway out of restrictions was published on the 2nd March outlining their strategic priorities which include: Health and Wellbeing of Citizens; Societal and Community Wellbeing; Economic Wellbeing and Revitalisation of the Economy.

Decisions are to be based on the 4 overarching principles that are to be: Evidence-Based (vaccination programme roll out and impact), Necessary (as in restrictions will only be enforced as long as necessary), Proportionate and Sustainable i.e. avoiding the risk of re-opening only to quickly have to lockdown again.

Therefore any dates should be taken as provisional and Government Guidance should be given priority and followed on these dates:

Currently, the guidance is to stay at home. Indoor contact is restricted to your own household or support bubble.


How many people outdoors

Meeting indoors


Permitted activities

Current lockdown restrictions were extended to 1st April but will be reviewed on the 18th March

Two people from two different households can meet to take exercise outdoors together.

(from 1st April up to 6 people from a maximum of two households can meet outdoors in private gardens.)
Only people from one household or from an extended bubble can meet indoors or in private gardens. Stay at home, you may only leave your home with a reasonable excuse e.g. Work, health, providing care, essential shopping. Organised sports can only take place amongst elite athletes or as part of organised educational activities for young people and children. 


3.1 Not before the 16th March

Up to 6 people from two households can meet outdoors in private dwellings.

Up to 10 people can meet from no more than 2 households outdoors not in private dwellings.

Stay at home message is still in place but beginning to relax.

3.2 Not before the 15th April

Up to 6 people from two different households can meet indoors In private dwellings.

Increased numbers permitted for organised outdoor gatherings at private swellings.

Restricted numbers will be permitted to meet indoors not at private dwellings.

3.3 Not before 13th May

Up to 10 from two households can meet indoors and outdoors at private dwellings.

No household limits on outdoor meetings.

Increased numbers allowed to meet indoors in public venues, not in private dwellings.

3.4 Not before 10th June

Household limits lifted in private dwellings and indoor venues.

Organised outdoor gatherings limited by risk assessments and mitigations.

3.5 General Comment for preparations

In general, we would advise you to by all means plan and prepare for your u3as or interest groups’ roadmap out of lockdown.

You’ve all been so creative and patient with your efforts to keep in touch with your group members during these unpredictable and restrictive times. Many of you have transitioned onto digital platforms whilst others await the opportunity to meet once more face-to-face with fellow members.

Its clear none of the four nations of the British Isle can give definite certainty of times and dates but the path is towards a definite progression to what will be the new normal.

Forward, flexible planning, returning initially to the ‘rule of 6’ for the early stages of this route is the best approach. If restrictions lift sooner than anticipated, then that will be a bonus and we can remove limitations in line with the guidance.

4. FAQs

4.1. 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:

  • Inform your committee of your plans and preparations for resuming
  • 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.
  • Inform your members of what to expect and how to prepare for returning
  • Ask members to complete a personal assessment (pre-attendance) before attending.
  • 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.

4.2. 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.

4.3. When can we restart our walking groups

The NI government roadmap for lifting lockdown means people in NI can only meet with people from a maximum of two households for outdoor activity.

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

This link will take you to a list of some of these bodies in NI https://www.irishsport.ie/ngbs/

4.6. When can we resume playing golf?

All sports facilities such as leisure centres, gyms, health clubs, swimming pools, tennis courts, golf courses, fitness and dance studios must remain closed. These restrictions are likely to remain in place until a comprehensive review on 1st April. The situation is to be reviewed on 16th March but it is unlikely this will change at this stage.

4.7. When can u3a interest groups resume face to face meetings indoors?

As previously stated, Northern Ireland is lifting the restrictions in a step by step manner but is taking each key area independently from another so progress through the steps will likely happen at different rates for different categories which include Home & Community; Education and Young People; Sports and Leisure etc. With regards to meeting up indoors, it is not likely to happy until Step 4 is reached in Home and Community that we will see increased numbers being able to meet indoors in public spaces. This may come about after the Comprehensive review on the 13th May although there will be a prior review on the 15th April, but we will need to wait to see what recommendations are made at these review dates.