Covid and Omicron – Chair’s message, January 2022

The following message is replicated from the January 2022 Dawlish & District u3a newsletter:

“For most of us, this has been another Christmas when we have not been able to do so much of what we would have liked to do.  Nonetheless, I hope you have been able to enjoy some time with family and friends, even if it has had to be remotely or in more limited circumstances.

It seems inevitable that the shadow of Covid and omicron will continue to cast a shadow over much of our lives in the weeks and months ahead.  Despite this, I hope we can continue to enjoy as much as possible of our lives in the u3a.  Your Committee met (remotely) at the beginning of January to discuss how we should manage meetings and what guidance we should offer interest groups.  Even though there have been no new regulations to adhere to, the advice and guidance given before Christmas continue to apply.

CANCELLATION: Monthly Meeting, Monday 17th January

I regret to say that we have to cancel the monthly meeting due to take place on Monday 17th January.  Many members were particularly looking forward to the presentation from members of the Social Prescribing Team at the Barton Surgery as it is a subject which is of great relevance to us all across the community.  However, they had to let me know this week that the pressures and uncertainty they face from Covid, added to the recent loss of a member of staff mean that they could not commit to joining us.  I am sure everyone understands this and sympathises.  The better news is that they have offered to come at a later date.

Interest Group Meetings

As outlined in December, the Committee feels that this decision about whether to go ahead with meetings should be left to the members of each group and determined by individual circumstances.

Where the venue and arrangements for a meeting meet the guidance given by government and medical authorities, then members can decide whether to go ahead.  I ask conveners to review the guidance and the arrangements for the meeting, and ensure that members are made aware of what is proposed.  The issues to consider include:

  • Members should take a lateral flow test before attending, and only do so if the result is negative.
  • Social distancing of at least one metre, and ideally two metres, should be maintained.
  • Members should respect each other’s space during the meeting, and as they arrive and depart.
  • Face masks should be worn as far as practicable for their own safety as well as for the health and wellbeing of those around them.
  • The venue should be well ventilated.  (Of course, at this time of the year, this is likely to mean that the room is likely to be rather chilly, so suitably warm clothing should be worn!)
  • Hand sanitizer should be provided, or members asked to bring their own.

Please be clear, the Committee is not advising, let alone instructing, interest groups to suspend their meetings.

A number of interest group meetings have already gone ahead this month and more will do so in the next few days: these have been very successful and greatly appreciated by those who have participated.  As a personal decision, I will be taking part in and hosting some group meetings.  It would be a great pity if those who wish to carry on with their u3a meetings safely, feel unable to do so.  However, I stress that the decision about whether to participate in any u3a activity must be made by each individual.  There must be no expectation that a member should participate or host a meeting if (s)he does not feel it is the right thing to do. ”

John Vick