Dear Members

As you may expect the committee have been continually reviewing the COVID-19 situation with regard to our club resuming our programme of walks. Following both recent guidelines issued by the government with also extensive input from Ramblers the committee is pleased to announce that our programme of walks will recommence from Tuesday 1st September. This decision has been made on the basis of the current guidelines but as we know these can quickly change so we will be constantly reviewing the situation.

In order to proceed however we need at all times to be compliant with the COVID-19 guidelines and therefore must introduce additional processes and responsibilities for all of us and in particular our walk leaders. There is extensive detail on this on the Ramblers web site which everybody with computer access is encouraged to read. In summary the following key points should be noted:

'Rule of Six'

The Ramblers published the statement below which re-enforces no change to our current position. This is excellent news as it has been very evident how many of you wanted to get back to our walks programme and how much everyone has enjoyed being out and about again.

As of 24 August 2020: all Ramblers activities can resume in England, Scotland and Wales – including group walks up to a maximum of 30 people. Please follow the latest advice (including any local restrictions in your area), and practise physical distancing.

England: Please note that as organised ‘outdoor physical activity events’, Ramblers and Walking for Health group walks are exempt from the restrictions on social gatherings, known as the ‘rule of six’ in England (from 14 September).

Please note that Ramblers and Ramblers Walking for Health group walks are exempt from the restrictions on social gatherings, announced on 22 September.

Our club is a registered organisation (a particularly important distinction when looking at the government's documented exemption categories) and is affiliated to Ramblers and as such falls into this category.

All Walkers

Anybody with any cold like symptoms and/or are not feeling well must not walk with the club

The maximum number of walkers on any walk will be limited to 30 including walk leader(s). This is in line with Ramblers advice based on both practical and risk limitations. It is important that we do not exceed this limit as even though it is not mandated, we can by adhering to this demonstrate that we are acting responsibly and within Ramblers guidelines and thereby not running the risk of invalidating our club's liability insurance. Given the number of walks we put on in a week it would be impractical to pre-book members on to a walk so the limitation will be applied on a first-come-first-served basis. At this time of year, we would normally expect to exceed this number particularly on the mid-week half day walks. However, we appreciate that a number of our members are either in a high-risk category or who would not be happy walking in larger groups at the moment so our expectation is that numbers will be significantly down from the norm.

All members should respect social distancing particularly on pinch-points such as stiles and gateways, but also at congregation points particularly at the start of walks.

Car sharing - we are not putting forward any guidelines here but leaving any decision on car sharing with the driver and occupants. Even so we would anticipate less car sharing so extra consideration needs to be taken when looking at sufficient parking spots at the beginning of a walk.

Finally, in the same way that the club asks members carry with them personal medication and first aid items we would add to that hand sanitiser and wipes. One major risk mitigation that we can all achieve is good hygiene.

Walk Leaders

There is no obligation to lead a walk. If you have put your name down to lead a walk on the programme but feel that you would rather not in the light of your own circumstances then please in the first instance let the appropriate walk secretary know as soon as you can. This will at least enable a possible substitute walk being put in place rather than an automatic cancellation. The weekly walks email normally issued on a Sunday will list all the walks that are cancelled and those that are going ahead for that week together with start details as normal.

There are two specific additional obligations to be adopted by the walk leader/s:

(i) Risk Assessment - linked is a Risk Assessment document produced by Ramblers. Every walk leader should familiarise themselves with this document. We are not proposing that this document is completed for every walk but suggest it be used as a useful checklist to advise participating walkers of specific does and don'ts related to COVID-19 risks for that walk.

(ii) Register of walkers - we do need to keep a record of all walkers (including walk leaders) of those participating on the walk. For members we only need to record the members name, if we do have any guest walkers, we will need to record their address and a contact telephone number.

Linked is a standard template that can be used for this. It is important that the walk leader returns the completed list via email if possible, to [email protected] as soon as possible after the walk. The committee will pick this up and maintain a single register of all walkers taking part on our walks to enable us as a club to track and trace any member at risk should anybody attending a walk subsequently develop COVID-19 symptoms (from any source).

Track and Trace

Names of the walkers listed will be entered into an electronic Walk Register together with contact details including primary telephone number and email address as held on our Members database. Initially we will maintain a minimum of 4 weeks data in the Walk Register (to be reviewed at the end of September). The file is held in an area which is password protected and is only accessible by Committee members (this complies with our Data Protection responsibilities). Maintaining a Walk Register of at least 4 weeks information fulfils our club's COVID-19 obligations. The club is not responsible for Track and Trace, this is an NHS service.

NB It is important that you inform the Membership Secretary, Jude Passman of any changes in your contact details as soon as possible so we always have access to your current contact information.

If any member thinks they have symptoms of COVID-19 they should follow the national rules i.e. immediately self-isolate and book a COVID-19 test. If the results are positive NHS Track and Trace will ask you for named contacts. If you were on any of our walks within the previous two weeks prior to any symptoms you will need to provide details to the NHS Track and Trace team to request a current copy of the Walk Register.

The primary contact will be Mike Roach but you should also provide telephone contact details (from the programme) for Sue Day, Jude Passman and Stuart Farrell. These 4 committee members will comprise a core team for all COVID-19 related enquiries. The NHS Track and Trace service will then contact each of the members on the relevant walk/s where some contact may have occurred.

We are living in a strange world at the moment and to some all these additional procedures may seem a bit daunting. However, we must set this in the right context. Participating in outdoor leisure is very low risk but we, as a club, need to take every precaution we can to ensure our members get the maximum enjoyment whilst trying to mitigate any risks posing a threat to them.

As aforementioned we appreciate that some members will not feel comfortable with participating in walks at this moment in time and we fully understand and respect their position. We do however hope that many of you, given the processes and guidelines being introduced will be once again happy to join us in our favourite pastime.

Best Wishes to you all

Keep safe and well

SHFRC Committee

Updated 27/09/20

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