In response to the Omicron variant, from 30th November the Government has introduced new rules in England to reduce the spread of Covid 19. It is mandatory to wear a face covering in shops, on public transport and in the communal areas of universities, colleges and schools by staff, visitors and pupils or students in year 7 and above.
Although sport is not mentioned in the new legislation, no situation is completely risk free and we are encouraged to use personal judgement to manage the risks. It must be remembered that it is still possible to catch and spread COVID-19, even if you are fully vaccinated.
To ensure the safety of members and help stop the spread of the virus, Clubs will again need to revisit their risk assessments. Although not legally required, Clubs may choose to reintroduce, or keep in place, some of the measures we have become used to over the previous months as part of their duty of care.
When assessing the risk and producing procedures to mitigate it, the NSRA recommends that the following measures should be considered by affiliated Clubs and Associations:
- Avoid close contact with others where possible. Make sure the rooms and other areas used by the Club are big enough to allow adequate spacing. This may affect the numbers of people who can attend the Club and this will need to be managed to avoid crowding.
- Maintain adequate spacing whist shooting. In some cases, this may mean reducing the number of firing points in use.
- Maintain a booking system to avoid large groups of people attending the Club at one time. Consider shooting over more hours/days to avoid big groups.
- If space is tight, introduce movement pathways (with signage) around the Club to minimise contact between shooters.
- The new rules do not currently require the wearing of masks in a sporting environment. However, it is sensible to insist on the wearing of masks particularly in enclosed spaces. Club rooms and target sheds are obvious places but some outdoor ranges have semi enclosed firing points where it may be appropriate to enforce the use of masks when not shooting.
- Impose the wearing of masks on indoor ranges when not shooting.
- Continue to sanitise surfaces often, particularly cleaning surfaces that people touch regularly.
- Continue to provide hand sanitiser for members and encourage them to use it and/or wash their hands frequently.
- Provide appropriate PPE to be used at the Club by members if required.
- Manage the opening of gates, locks, target sheds etc. and ensure touch points are sanitised.
- Take steps to improve ventilation where possible – this may simply be opening doors or windows to improve airflow. Obviously, shooting outdoors is to be encouraged if possible.
- A log needs to be kept of people present at the range, not only for the normal completing of firearms and attendance logs, but also for “track and trace” purposes.
- Reinforce the fact that people shouldn’t attend the Club if they have symptoms or have been told to self isolate. Continue to display and encourage the use of QR codes.
- When introducing new people to shooting or running courses, further steps may be necessary as it is likely that trainers and coaches will need to step inside the recommended safe distances. The use of PPE (masks and/or visors) in these situations should be considered.
- If Club equipment is used make sure it is sanitised before being used by another shooter.
- If refreshments are prepared and/or consumed at the Club offer guidance about doing this safely.
- If payment for use of the facilities is necessary and required use contactless payment methods or ask members to make a bank transfer for the money involved.
- When shooting is complete members often want to chat to friends. Try to encourage this to take place in a safe manner by keeping adequate spacing, wearing masks etc. as appropriate.
- Be aware that different Home Countries may have different requirements
When changes in the legislation take place it is essential to communicate with members, telling them what’s happening at the Club and how it will affect them. We need to maintain a safe environment and one where people feel comfortable to take part and give shooters confidence to attend the Club.
Rather than thinking of these as unnecessary restrictions, if sensibly applied, it is hoped that these measures will actually encourage more people to continue or return to shooting.