Latest Covid19 Advice
Covid-19 and our Handbell Events
Covid update for HRGB website, 15 July 2021
Government restrictions on social measures to prevent the spread of Covid-19 are due to be lifted shortly. In England this change will take place on 19th July. In Wales it is planned for 7th August and in Scotland 9th August.
HRGB policy on measures to prevent the spread of Covid at HRGB national and regional events will be published before the first HRGB events take place. We will ensure that our policy reflects the national guidelines and medical advice at that time.
We recognise that handbell groups will be keen to make music as soon as possible and may get together again when the national guidelines are relaxed. Of course, HRGB can not make policy or guidelines for individual handbell groups – that is a matter for the members of each group – but HRGB trustees do urge you to take care as you enjoy meeting and ringing bells together in one place.
The relaxation of Government guidelines does not mean that the disease has gone away. Numbers of Covid infections are actually rising in many parts of the country, despite the success of the vaccination programme. The virus is often spread by people who do not know that they have it. So we strongly advise you to continue to use the guidelines that have been on this website for the past year (“Ringing In The Face Of Covid-19”); to ensure that you are aware of the risks involved and how to reduce these, for example by social distancing and the use of face-masks, and to consider using a lateral flow test immediately before your meeting (and self-isolating if the result shows that you have Covid). A link to an example risk assessment is also to be found on this website.
Enjoy ringing safely!
The current situation (added 17th September 2020, with thanks to Alan Cooper)
Boris Johnson announced on 9 September that "you must not meet socially in groups of more than six", "this will apply in any setting, indoors or outdoors, at home or in the pub". This authorises handbells teams of 6 or fewer to meet in any of those contexts (subject to social distancing).
Boris said "COVID Secure venues like places of worship, gyms, restaurants and hospitality venues can still hold more than 6 people in total. Within those venues however, there must not be individual groups larger than 6, and groups must not mix socially or form larger groups".
As handbell ringing involves making music together as a team, rather than as independent individuals, I believe we count as one larger group if there are more than 6 of us. The principle is to reduce transmission of Covid so I personally would not meet with a team of more than six ringers for my own and their safety while the new Rule of Six is in operation.
At present we can't see an exemption applicable to more than six ringers meeting to ring in the Government's updated information. In particular the list of exemptions does not appear to include one suitable for handbell ringing. The mention of activity clubs in the previous version of this document has been omitted and all mentions of community centres, where many teams meet, or of community activities, have also been removed from the document.
Until more information comes out I think the safe conclusion is that groups of 6 can ring together freely whoever they are (subject to social distancing measures and, if in Covid secure venues, to a risk assessment) and larger teams should not meet. Please wear a face mask if indoors and please be aware that rules may be different in different parts of the UK.
Tim Willetts 17/9/20
Advice and risk assessment information (for use when your group decides to ring again, subject to the Rule of 6 or subsequent national and local rules)
If you are planning to ring again, subject to national and local rules it will be important to ensure that all members of the team are able to rejoin ringing at a time which suits them. Some may feel they wish to start ringing as soon as national and local rules allow, and some may wish to wait until next year, or whenever a vaccine is available.
We felt that it was important to provide some advice tailored to handbell ringing, as the Governments' advice is often not very relevant to our activities. A group of NEC members, informed by medical experience, have agreed to draw up advice for members relating to starting to ring again - this is available HERE
Current advice for groups getting together is to carry out an assessment of the risks relating to the people in your team and the venue that you are using. Some practice venues may ask you for this. HERE you will find an EXAMPLE of such a risk assessment, with thanks to Gay Cooper. You do not have to use the same template, but it will give you an idea of what to do.
Tim Willetts 17/9/20
The long-term situation for national and regional events (added 7th July 2020)
On Saturday 4th July the HRGB National Executive met via video-conference facility. Discussion about the impact of Covid-19 on handbell events was comprehensive. Guiding principles were providing clear leadership to our members and the importance of keeping our members safe. We were mindful of the dreadful impact of this disease on individuals and the current lack of any vaccine or reliable treatment.
As a result of this discussion the NEC decided that national events - the National Rally, UK Bronze, NRRW and the Musical Directors' Weekend Seminar - should all be put back by two years. So the next national event to take place will be the national rally in 2022. Participants registered for any of the events already open for booking have been contacted by the organisers to let them know the arrangements and their options.
However, it may be the case that regional events, with shorter preparation and booking times, or arranged on-line or by video-conferencing, might be able to take place in 2021 - depending on Government and / or specific local guidelines and conditions.
Tim Willetts 7/7/20