Latest Advice on U3A Activities

U3A National Office has issued the following advice regarding U3A activities. This has been edited to reflect only that relevant to England.

Latest guidance for U3As July 2020

Introduction

When a Covid-19 update mailing is sent out, the U3A guidance will be included on the U3A national website in the coming days. You will find it in the advice area behind your member login in the section “Running your U3A during Covid-19. This includes a Risk Check List for outdoor activities where geographically appropriate.

The different nations and islands in Great Britain, Northern Ireland have different rules and guidance which is contained below. When traveling into another nation you must follow the guidance for that nation.

When should you stay at home?

The government says you should not leave your home to take part in U3A activity if you are in a category which should stay at home or if you or anyone in your household has symptoms of  coronavirus the government advises that, if you or someone in your household or your support bubble (or other similar title e.g. Wales uses ‘extended family’) is showing coronavirus symptoms, everyone in your support bubble should stay at home. If you or a member of your support bubble is contacted as part of the test, track and trace programme, the individual contacted should stay at home. If that individual becomes symptomatic, everyone in the support bubble must then isolate. This is critical to staying safe and saving lives.

It is advisable that any U3A group activities that are taking place at this time should keep a log of those participating for track and trace purposes should the need arise and you would need to advise members that this information would be shared with the relevant NHS Track and Trace team in that event.

England

https://www.gov.uk/coronavirus

On 19 June, the UK CMOs changed the COVID-19 alert level in England from level four to level three following a recommendation by the Joint Biosecurity Centre. This means that the virus is considered to be in general circulation but transmission is no longer high or rising exponentially. As a result, the UK Government is continuing to ease restrictions in a manner that is safe, cautious and consistent with its plan. However, it is important to follow the general government guidance about keeping safe personally when outside your home -this can be found here: https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/staying-safe-outside-your-home/staying-safe-outside-your-home

1.1 This meant that from 4 July

You can meet in groups of up to two households (anyone in your support bubble counts as one household) in any location – public or private, indoors or outdoors. You do not always have to meet with the same household – you can meet with different households at different times. However, it remains the case – even inside someone’s home – that you should socially distance from anyone not in your household or bubble. This means it is unlikely that a U3A can operate indoors.

When you are outside you can continue to meet in groups of up to six people from different households, following social distancing guidelines.

If you can, you should avoid using public transport, and aim to walk, cycle, or drive instead. It is not possible to social distance during car journeys and transmission of coronavirus can definitely occur in this context. So avoid travelling with someone from outside your household or, your support bubble unless you can practice social distancing. If you need to use public transport to complete your journey you should follow the guidelines in place, and must wear a face covering.

1.2 Travel Restrictions for England July 2020

There are no restrictions irrespective of distance on travel in England however if visiting other parts of the UK – Scotland, Wales or Northern Ireland – you must adhere to the laws and guidance of the devolved administrations at all times. It is not possible to social distance during car journeys and transmission of COVID-19 can definitely occur during car journeys, so avoid travelling with someone from outside your household or support bubble. (see above)

1.3 Guidance for those who are over 70 years old or deemed clinically vulnerable as of 6th July 2020

You can meet people outdoors and, from 4 July, indoors, you should be especially careful and be diligent about social distancing and hand hygiene.

1.4 Guidance for those who are extremely clinically vulnerable

From 1 August, advice for clinically extremely vulnerable people will move in line with advice to those who are clinically vulnerable. In practice, this means staying at home as much as possible, and if people do go out, taking particular care to minimise contact with others outside their household (unless you are in a support bubble) and robustly practising good, frequent hand washing. You should remain cautious as you are still at risk of severe illness if you catch coronavirus, so the advice is to stay at home where possible and, if you do go out, follow strict social distancing

Risk Assessments

Risk assessment for all locations:

To make an assessment of whether you should undertake any activity our advice is that it is important to carry out a risk assessment as you would do for any U3A activity. In the case of resuming an outdoor U3A exercise activity there would be two elements to any risk assessment to be considered. It is strongly advised that you record any assessment before taking part in activity.

The first part of the risk assessment – identify what steps Group leaders propose taking to ensure the activity is Covid secure – E.g. limiting numbers, taking face coverings and hand sanitisers, own refreshments, limiting time and duration of activities. This information should be shared with participants so that they can complete the next part of the risk assessment for themselves. The second part of the risk assessment is for each potential participant to undertake a personal participation risk assessment considering the Covid-19 risks and hazards that taking part poses to the individual. Our advice is that it is imperative that everyone completes a personal assessment of this nature and records it. This is however, a personal exercise and does not need to be shared with group leaders. It is sufficient to inform them that you have considered your personal situation and decided that you are safe to take part in the activity as arranged. This is important because there are differing requirements for:

  • people with different health conditions – clinically vulnerable, or clinically extremely vulnerable
  • people of different ages
  • members living in a household where there is someone who is considered clinically vulnerable, or clinically extremely vulnerable and therefore has limitations on contact with others.

Our advice is that a personal participation risk assessment should take into consideration a person’s physical health and any underlying issues, age and the health and circumstances of those they may be living with or isolating with in their household.

For your assistance in this matter and to enable you to make a thorough assessment of your own and the activity risks involved, you will find Risk Assessment Checklists on the National Website in the Advice Section on Running Your U3A during Covid, which everyone should view and complete including the personal section before considering taking part (click here for the version that relates to Outdoor Activities). As previously stated, there is no requirement for you to share your personal risk assessment but that you have considered the factors for yourself and concluded that you can safely take part.