The Trustees have met to consider the latest situation following the introduction of Lockdown 3. Sadly we feel we have no option but to continue with our current suspension of all riding activities until the end of March.We will review this again if the situation improves significantly and the Govenment lifts its lockdown restrictions earlier e.g. after February half-term, but feel it is better to be realistic about the potential length of shutdown – end March is in line with the regulations approved by Parliament on Wednesday 6th January.
We realise this will be enormously disappointing for our riders and their families and carers, but as you no doubt are aware, the national Covid Alert Level has been increased to 5, the highest level, which indicates that the NHS is at material risk of being overwhelmed. Our Covid policy clearly states that we would be closed under such circumstances.
Given the moral imperative to do what we can to reduce transmission of the virus and keep our volunteers safe, we have also approved some changes to our covid secure working practices. These are:
Pony welfare and exercise
- We have moved the ponies to a minimum welfare regime, so we will no longer be riding in the sessions.
Changes to our working procedures at the yard
- We have reclassified the indoor school as an indoor space and therefore face coverings must be worn in the school – this is in line with changes currently being considered by government in relation to indoor schools in response to the new variant.
- We have also reduced the limits on numbers in the school to 6, and haybarn and coffee room to 2 given the lack of ventilation – we appreciate that it is incredibly cold at times, but please keep the doors open to let fresh air circulate. An additional person may walk through coffee rom to access the office.
- A revised Covid checklist has been prepared and circulated to Session Leaders. Printed copies will be at the yard – enforcing all of the measures in this (hands, face, space etc) are key to us operating safely
- Volunteer teams should be the minimum number to undertake the activities safely and efficiently subject to following parameters:
- Extremely clinically vulnerable people should not attend under any circumstances – this is already current policy, but is worth restating since formal shielding has been introduced
- There are other groups who are considered vulnerable e.g. Over 70s, so we should reiterate our previous advice is not to attend, but as before leave it to individual judgement, provided that there is a required role.
- Please remind anyone travelling by public transport to follow the government safer travel guidance available here
- Car sharing outside of household or support bubble is not permitted.
- As per current policy, anyone showing Covid symptoms, waiting for test results, self-isolating following a positive test, or contact by NHS Test and Trace should not attend
- Extending time at the yard to socialise isn’t allowed
- We have checked with the police whether we would need to reissue letters to volunteers to demonstrate that they are travelling for a permitted purpose but have been advised this shouldn’t be required. We would encourage people to wear ERDA clothing as a form of identification, and please do let us know if anyone does have any difficulty
Our huge thanks to all our volunteers for continuing to come to the yard and look after our ponies and grounds, especially during these difficult winter months. The commitment and camaraderie in the teams never fails to astonish us and makes us grateful to be part of such a special organisation.