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CoronavirusUpdate – Reopening of club facilities

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Coronavirus (COVID-19) Update

Issued 16 May

The Trustees together with Pete Forrest, Chair of the Rowing Committee, have been looking closely at the revised guidance from British Rowing which was released on 13 May and subsequently update on 15 May along with the latest guidance from the Government, DCMS & the Environment Agency. Careful consideration is being given to how and when we can look to allow access to boats and equipment in the short term and how we later re-open the club in the medium term when guidance allows.

As it states in the guidance from British Rowing, clubs must first:

  • Put in place appropriate, adapted safety plans which are in line with British Rowing’s RowSafe guidance and comply with all relevant COVID-19 guidance (including from waterways authorities). These should also always follow both the spirit and the letter of any Government restrictions.
  • Have a club plan in place to support safe access to and use of equipment (e.g. boats/blades). This must follow all relevant Government guidance including hygiene and social distancing; and,
  • Continue to follow all relevant UK Government and/or waterway authority restrictions.

British Rowing also states: “It’s important to remember that this is not at all a return to normal operations or club activities – only the absolute minimum necessary areas of clubs should be opened and only to facilitate access to boats and equipment. At this stage, we advise that gyms, bars and other facilities remain closed with no organised club activities or gatherings. Clubs will need to put in place plans to reduce the risk of transmission of coronavirus through the use of any areas of the club or shared equipment. Every club will have slightly different considerations, however, we have listed below some suggested areas to think about.”

BR goes on to say: “We appreciate that many of you will be eager to get back on the water but we would ask you to be patient with your club and provide time for them to put in place the right measures to keep you and the rest of your club safe as well as your local community. Please bear in mind that planning and implementing these measures for safe access to the club may take time and your club’s volunteers may have other priorities. Please wait for your club to let you know the specific arrangements they have in place.”

When we look at the detail of how to re-start rowing but still observing the rules on social distancing and against public gatherings it is a complex matter. In addition, most equipment will be shared with all the consequent risks of transmission of the virus. The club may have a good number of singles but we also have a large membership. We have to consider the fact that the toilets will have to be available and this raises all the precautions necessary to protect each member using them. We also have to consider the aspect of safe supervision of our juniors working, within both the Government guidance & British Rowing safeguarding standards.

We have reached the conclusion that the earliest date that we MAY be able to access boats and equipment within the club is 1 June but even then this is an aspiration which may not be achieved. The Trustees and the other club officers have a duty to you all to ensure safety in this uncertain world. The national picture is constantly changing and we cannot rule out that the lockdown will be re-imposed if there is a second wave of infections. We cannot re-start rowing until all necessary measures are in place. The plan for re-opening the club will apply equally to both club and private boats.

We appreciate that some of you will be frustrated and disappointed that you cannot get out in a boat now but please bear in mind all the complications that face us all both in our sport and our lives. As you can see from the latest British Rowing Guidance there will be no racing of any sort for some while yet.

We will be working hard over the next couple of weeks to try and complete a viable plan for re-starting rowing and will circulate further details when appropriate.

We would further encourage you to read the guidance from British Rowing.