The Government has announced that from 14th September social gatherings of more than 6 people will be banned in England – but there are some exemptions. Organised group walks of between 6 and 30 people which follow the Ramblers’ operational guidance continue to be categorised as ‘outdoor physical activity events’ and are exempt from the latest restrictions. However, this is only when walks follow agreed protocols and include extra measures to reduce the risk of Covid-19 transmission. Sport England has explicitly stated that people can continue to take part in organised outdoor sports and physical activity events.
Along with the guidance for Club members already published it is now advised that walk leaders carry a copy of their ‘risk assessment’ with them – just in case they are challenged.
The Club’s Executive Committee met on Tuesday 4th August to consider the resumption of ‘formal’ organized walks this autumn. This was in response to the news that the Ramblers Association – the National Governing Body for walking – has negotiated an agreement with the Government to enable organized group walks of up to 30 people to start up. We have checked with the Ramblers that Clubs such as the CRC can now formally organize group walks of between 6 and 30 people, as long as we follow Government guidance initially drawn up for ‘recreational team sports’ on July 17th. This guidance identifies several steps that must be taken by any Club to identify and mitigate the risks associated with the transmission of Covid-19.
The Executive Committee agreed that, in principle, CRC group walks and trips involving 7 or more people can resume from 1st September. However, there is no rush! We want to adopt a very cautious, responsible approach, with decisions on when and how to resume our regular weekly walks left to the groups themselves. The Committee is aware that some groups, such as the Sunday ‘A’s, are willing to go ahead soon on an experimental basis. Other groups may well consider it too early to start formal walks now.
It is important to be aware that any group resuming ‘official’ Club walks must operate in a different way from in the past. The Government guidance requires the Club to ensure that every walk is ‘risk-assessed’ in advance by the leader, focusing on issues of Covid-19 transmission, with a record kept for a year. Contact details of everyone booking onto an ‘official’ Club walk will be kept for 21 days before deletion as there may be a ‘NHS track and trace’ follow-up. This is a bit daunting, but is essential if we are to offer walks to our members.
Guidance on the Club’s website has been fully revised, saved in the ‘Members’ section. This covers the responsibilities of walks’ leaders and there is a new document on the responsibilities of walk participants. Leaders will need to complete and save a ‘risk assessment’ for each walk in advance and keep a copy for a year
Some groups may conclude that they are unwilling to resume regular walks at present – others may be willing to offer a trial walk for a limited number of people. It will be difficult to rely on pub meals being available and car-sharing may be impractical. making it impossible to operate group walks as in the past. We cannot currently produce a comprehensive Walks’ Programme for a 4 month period and ‘official’ walks on offer will probably only be advertised on-line a week or so in advance. We are operating in very difficult times and there will be problems in coming to terms with the ‘new normal’.
But walking with friends is such a tonic and so important to Club members that we hope we can all move forward – together.