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 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 13th April 2021. 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:

Group Sizes

In accordance with the published guidelines, as confirmed by Ramblers statement below, there are no restrictions on group sizes for planned outdoor sports and recreational activities. However, all of the other COVID guidelines apply.

It has also 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.

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.

Once again Rambling is an exemption from the Rule of 6 and it may be that some members of the public, who may not be aware of the full guidance, regard us as breaking the rules. Please ensure that any dialogue on this matter be non-emotional and comprising simply of setting out the facts.

All Walkers

Anybody with any COVID-19 symptoms and/or are not feeling well must not walk with the club

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, including the use of masks.

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 - every walk leader and members 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 - no longer required.

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 30/08/21

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