A number of the Club’s officers have been working through the problems of accommodating to the circumstances in which we now operate, what adjustments there need to be to recognise those and how we might begin to have a programme of activities. That the ground shifts constantly is well illustrated by the announcement last Thursday of added restrictions in Greater Manchester and parts of Yorkshire.
An adjustment unaffected by that is a change in Club admission requirements. Given the suspension of all Meets, the Committee has agreed that the three Meets rule should be waived for the foreseeable future. As a result, potential new members need to find two current members who will propose and second a Membership application. More information and the application form can be found at https://rucksackclub.org/who-we-are/join-us/. With that adjustment a number of new members have been recruited since lockdown occurred…we look forward to further appropriate applications coming in.
The Club’s Hut Wardens, Andy Llewellyn, Andy Tomlinson and John Farrow met – virtually – Monday evening to look at the issue of day Meets and reopening the Huts for albeit limited use. After considerable discussion, they concluded that the current policy of suspending the meets programme and use of the huts should remain in place. The reasons why are set out below.
At this moment in England only six people from multiple households may meet, with social distancing, outdoors. We felt that was still too low a number for organised Club activities. What if eight turned up? In both Wales and Northern Ireland a group of up to 30 is allowed. When England catches up we shall take another look. We are aware that for climbing and walking small informal groups of members are active outside the Club framework.
Re-opening the Huts poses bigger problems. Since building work has begun at HIgh Moss and is likely to run through until October it is out of commission anyway for the moment. That aside all three sets of Wardens have been thinking about the ground rules and preparations needed to operate communal buildings on a socially distanced basis, which is not just about 2 metres separation but avoiding using all kinds of surfaces and utensils in common and ensuring wash basins and toilets are cleaned between non family users, not to mention preparatory risk assessments and being able to ensure no one enters any of the buildings unregistered between bookings – which touches on their security. Social distancing being so difficult to sustain, the safe approach would be to allow only a single household group to use a hut at any one time and in order to ensure the virus had decayed, to leave a minimum gap of 72 hours between different users. We took the view that the small returns generated by an enormous effort to make all the necessary arrangements quickly simply isn’t worth it. We need time and imagination to devise efficient ways to resolve these challenging issues. As we must whenever we reach whatever is “the new normal.