From Thursday 5th November until Wednesday 2nd December 2020, there are new restrictions on movement and day-to-day contact with other people because of the rapidly rising numbers of Covid-19 cases across the UK.
The aim of these new measures is to reduce the growth rate of the virus, which will prevent the NHS from being overwhelmed, and also ensure schools, colleges and universities can stay open and as many people as possible can continue to work.
You probably already know how it affects you in some ways, but what about going to our allotment – can you still do that?
We are told that we must:
” Stay at home, except for specific purposes.
Avoid meeting people you do not live with, except for specific purposes.
Close certain businesses and venues.
The measures will be underpinned by the law so police and other authorities will have powers to give fines and break up gatherings.
For members of the Ward End Gardeners Association, we got through the last lockdown without anyone getting a serious condition of the virus (as far as we know), and most of us managed to continue looking after our plots if we weren’t in a vulnerable group. So can we get through the new lockdown too? Yes, if we keep being alert and don’t take unnecessary risks, and we follow the three simple actions to keep on protecting each other:
Wash hands: keep washing your hands regularly
Cover face: wear a face covering in enclosed spaces
Make space: stay at least 2 metres apart – or 1 metre with a face covering or other precautions
It’s hard to keep it up, but there’s too much to lose by relaxing our guard now that winter’s approaching.
There’s lots of information on the official websites, too much to read and take in all at once. Here’s some extracts from these sources, relevant to allotment holders and their families. As far as we understand at the moment, you can keep going to your plot, as much as you would do this time of year, but you need to observe the restrictions when you do, for the sake of others as well as yourself.
When we know any more than what’s included here, we’ll put further updates on the website.
“1. Stay at home
You must not leave or be outside of your home except for specific purposes. These include…………………………
Meeting others and care
You can leave home to visit people in your support bubble, or to provide informal childcare for children 13 and under as part of a childcare bubble, to provide care for vulnerable people, to provide emergency assistance, attend a support group (of up to 15 people), or receive respite care. People can also exercise outdoors or visit an outdoor public place …..
2. Meeting others safely
In general, you must not meet people socially. However, you can exercise or meet in a public, outdoors space with people you live with, your support bubble (or as part of a childcare bubble), or with one other person. You should minimise time spent outside your home. When around other people, stay 2 metres apart from anyone not in your household – meaning the people you live with – or your support bubble. Where this is not possible, stay 1 metre apart with extra precautions (e.g. wearing a face covering).
You must not meet socially indoors with family or friends unless they are part of your household or support bubble.
A support bubble is where a household with one adult joins with another household. Households in that support bubble can still visit each other, stay overnight in each other’s households, and visit outdoor public places together.
You can exercise or visit outdoor public places with:
- the people you live with
- your support bubble
- or, when on your own, 1 person from another household. Children under 5, as well as disabled people dependent on round-the-clock care are not counted towards the limit on two people meeting outside
There is further guidance on what exercise and other physical activity can continue during the period of national restrictions.
Outdoor public places include:
- neighbourhood streets, parks, beaches, and the countryside
- public gardens and grounds (whether or not you pay to enter them)
- outdoor playgrounds
You cannot meet people in a private garden, unless you live with them or have formed a support bubble with them.
Face coverings are required by law to be worn in many indoor settings, such as shops or places of worship where these remain open, and on public transport.”
And here’s the section about people who need to take extra care:
“9. Protecting people more at risk from coronavirus
If you are over 60 or clinically vulnerable, you could be at higher risk of severe illness from coronavirus. You:
- should be especially careful to follow the rules and minimise your contacts with others
- should continue to wash your hands carefully and more frequently than usual and maintain thorough cleaning of frequently touched areas in your home and/or workspace
Clinically vulnerable people are those who are:
- aged 70 or over (regardless of medical conditions)
- under 70 with an underlying health condition listed below (that is, anyone instructed to get a flu jab each year on medical grounds):
- chronic (long-term) mild to moderate respiratory diseases, such as asthma, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), emphysema or bronchitis
- chronic heart disease, such as heart failure
- chronic kidney disease
- chronic liver disease, such as hepatitis
- chronic neurological conditions, such as Parkinson’s disease, motor neurone disease, multiple sclerosis (MS) or cerebral palsy
- a weakened immune system as the result of certain conditions or medicines they are taking (such as steroid tablets)
- being seriously overweight (a body mass index (BMI) of 40 or above)
For more general information on how you can help to protect your friends and family download the NHS COVID-19 App to keep updated on the latest guidance from Thursday 5 November. There is separate guidance for households with a possible or confirmed coronavirus infection.
Now here’s the guidance which was issued by the National Allotment Society at the time of the first lockdown – this still applies:
“How can I ensure my family’s and everyone else’s safety at the plot?
Do not attend the plot if you have coronavirus symptoms or a family member is self-isolating, this includes people who need to isolate after returning from holidays abroad.
- Take a flask of hot water, soap and paper towels to the plot with you (cold water will work too).
- Use hand sanitiser (should be 60% alcohol content) before entering the site and opening any gate locks
- Wash hands for at least 20 seconds after closing the lock, dry with a paper towel
- The most effective part of hand washing is the drying using preferably paper towel to remove the layer of dead skin scales – on which virus and bacteria sit. Paper towel to compost heap.
- DO NOT touch your face after using anything that has been touched by other people- use an elbow to work the push taps.
- Wash your hands again for 20 seconds, dry with a paper towel before opening and closing the lock to leave the site
- Use hand sanitiser after closing the lock
- Wash hands when you get home
- Observe “Social Distancing” with each other – 2 metres
- If you take your children to the plot, ensure that they stay within its confines and do not run around on communal paths and spaces.
- Do not share tools
- Do not wash your hands in water troughs
I am self-isolating and cannot go to the allotment and worried about losing my plot, what should I do?
Please make sure that you inform your Allotment Association that you are unable to visit the site, preferably in writing, so that they can make allowances for your situation.
Working on your plot
If you do wish to bring someone to assist with work on the plot, please ensure that that this is notified to the Secretary so that they can authorise and are aware of who is on site. It is essential that no un-authorised people are allowed onto the plots for the duration of this emergency. Careful consideration should be given to introducing anyone over 70, those with underlying illness or pregnant women.”
If you have a plot on one of the Ward End Gardeners Association sites and have any other Covid 19 queries or want to tell us your situation, please use the Contact Us page.