I trust that you are all well? I have seen some criticism of asking that question in messages, but in the present climate it seems the first question you would want to ask. I regret that my notes are a little less light-hearted at present, but after a period where the Government seemed to be heralding some light at the end of the pandemic tunnel, the last couple of weeks have suggested the fear is, as the old joke goes, it now might just be an oncoming train. OK, no more jokes.
The level of alert from the Government is raised to 4, which means there is a greater risk of infection. New rules are in place, both for the country from Thursday 24th September to supplement those for Merseyside imposed on Tuesday 22nd September. We need to apply them at the Club.
At the time of typing this, Wednesday, the RFU guidance was that Return to Rugby is still at stage D, allowing some team-type games of touch but restricting contact. However, with the local guidance to avoid spectating at amateur sports events, Saturday’s games v Orrell have been cancelled.
It is hoped, and is still permitted, to continue to use the Club at weekends. We are grateful to those who have and I look to update the further changes required to do so below.
Some advice remains the same as before. If you are unwell you should stay at home and isolate and if necessary, follow the guidance to contact the NHS for advice.
If coming to the Club, you need to be aware to maintain social distance, using mitigation if it is not possible to be less than 2 metres apart. You should wash hands regularly and sanitise, and going forward you should wear a mask when moving indoors if you can.
The Government upped the ante this week, first with Merseyside restrictions then with national ones. Please follow them. Failure to do so can mean fines for you and for the Club and it can also lead to action against the Club's Licence and the person named on it who is me. The days of gentle guidance are gone I am afraid which is an indication of the Government's concern.
We are working on if and how we can facilitate the Mini and Junior Rugby to continue, particularly how we comply with the guidance to those who attend to deliver and collect youngsters.
The Club will be open, but it will be subject to the added restrictions that I list below. These restrictions each carry the same significance and breach of almost all of them could result in fines as from Thursday as I understand it. All are more restrictive, the reasons for that have been aired in the news over the last few days. If we find people will not comply, we have to review how we can use the Club but I am confident that with your support it will not come to that.
We can only stay open if we are COVID compliant and to be that we need to apply the regulations covering hospitality premises:
- You must notattend in groups greater than 6 (unless within a larger genuine family bubble). Within that group you must socially distance and must not mingle with other groups. Significant fines apply if this is not complied with. Staff and directors have been asked to try and enforce this but it would be brilliant if people would simply comply.
- One of your group mustprovide contact details, the names of those attending and a contact number for one of the group. We have to keep this for 21 days for NHS Track and Trace purposes. Please help us by doing that. If you can put the time of arrival that helps in case we need to check if people have overlapped. From 24th September there will be a QR code to scan as part of this process to more accurately confirm arrival and departure for those with complaint phones.
- Inside the Club if you are moving around, either coming in or going to the toilet, face masks mustbe worn. This is a requirement of customers and staff - please co-operate.
- If you wish to eat or drink you must be seated. We will look to apply this inside and out. As indicated above we should not be mingling outside our groups of up to 6 and so there should be no need to wander around the Club.
- Service will be table service. Please be patient especially if things are busy. We will try to ensure that we have sufficient staff to allow this to operate smoothly but there may be delays. If you are not seated when the bar is serving then I am afraid we cannot allow you to drink. The regime that was so carefully put together to allow ordering and serving is required to change. It will allow the space to be used for some more tables, but will require your patience as the staff look to help you.
- There is a 10pm curfew when the bar and the premises have to be closed. This will apply everywhere.
This is the "new normal". It should apply everywhere and will have been the case on Merseyside before Saturday. It may be the case for a while as people are discouraged from too much contact to prevent disease spread. I appreciate one of the main reasons most of us enjoy involvement in team sports like rugby is that ability to socialise and mingle and what we ask is not normal. But it is now to be more than guidance, it is the lawand seems likely to be for some months.
I am conscious that a tremendous amount of work has gone into bringing the Club back to life, both physically to the premises, including new furniture, and in the enthusiasm of those organising and training according to the RFU guidance. I am also knocked out, as I am sure everyone is, by the contributions to the crowdfunding project and also the timely way people have looked to pay their subscriptions. In these difficult times it will help the Club survive until we are hopefully in less troubled times and can enjoy the facilities with less restriction and generate much-needed income.
The return of restrictions will be hard on many of us. The hope engendered over the last few weeks by some pronouncements has been knocked a bit by the last few weeks. However, if we are allowed to use the Club as a base for the limited interaction permitted that might just help a bit. For as long as we canbe a base, we will look to be. If we can find ways to help those, who for reasons of health, feel they cannot attend please let us know.
For now, thank you in advance for your co-operation and stay well.