Club activities and Covid-19 update: Wednesday 5th August 2020

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.

2 Comments

  1. Sorry, I posted this to the wrong item.
    Response to statement: Covid 19 update, Wednesday 5th August 2020.
    Following this update, I interpret the last statement ‘We need time and imagination to devise efficient ways to resolve these challenging issues‘as my invitation to give a constructive comment.
    My main request is that we have a debate, committee led with an agreed agenda, via Zoom (very successfully used with the recent lectures).
    My overriding observation is this; many of us have had to work with Specific or Generic Risk Assessment, for many years and may have much to contribute. Also, in my opinion, I believe that we have to prepare for the micro management of our particular environments.
    I am also of the opinion that the club should not rely on Governing Bodies as their sole source of way forward; theirs is, inevitably, a cautious response to Government Guidance.
    From the legal perspective, there appear to be concerns about litigation from Covid19 claims against the Club (Committee position on re-opening huts, 09/07/20). The BMC Insurers position is this:
    “The combined liability policy arranged by the BMC for the protection of clubs and club committee members does not include an exclusion related to COVID-19. This means that if someone was to bring a claim against a club, or club committee member, alleging they had contracted coronavirus at a club event or club hut, the policy would respond to defend the club/committee member and, if legally required, pay compensation to the limit of indemnity. It is expected that all clubs will take reasonable steps to manage the risk of COVID-19 within club huts and at their events by following BMC and government guidance. We strongly recommend that risk assessments are carried out and documented by clubs in order to evidence the steps that have been taken, for the protection of the club in the event that a claim is made.”
    Source: BMC Website.
    There are means of indicating and entering into the spirit of non-litigation that all climbers and mountaineers will be familiar with; ‘Responsible User Declarations, are already evident in many other forms of activity and venue usage.
    I can supply a statement required currently by the French Government for travellers. This is simply a sample of a declaration of user responsibility that could be used to further mitigate concerns.
    Many declarations could be cherry picked, to create a template complimenting our situation.
    Whilst recognising that any such statements or ‘waivers’ cannot actually be used to prevent possible litigation, should someone be that way inclined, the Insurer statement above should assuage the fears of the Committee.
    From professional experience I know that the evaluation of a Court, considering apportioning blame, would include whether the Defendant had kept up to date Risk Assessments, User Guidance and contingency measures, onsite and available to participants to read or use.
    Whatever direction this virus is taking, it is up to us to work to manage it and not be governed by it.
    Many of us will have recently used or seen facilities that are accommodating large numbers of people. I am sure that our membership can work with and follow environment specific guidance. We could also approach other clubs for an evaluation of current best practice. It is noteworthy that many climbing walls are now open for business using ABC and BMC guidance.
    Prior to sending this comment I received, as many of us did, the latest update and proposition for Beudy Mawr. I hope for a great positive response to that request but there must be many of you, like myself, that are thinking the content of, 12th July update-Committee position on re-opening huts, 09/07/20, has been turned on its head.

    Through discussion, let us try to manage the issues that we are faced with. I am sure that our Club has a vast amount of experience that can be called upon.
    Our valued Committee Members should not have to shoulder this burden alone.

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