I'm writing to share critical pieces of information relating to the developing Coronavirus (COVID-19) situation. This email follows my previous communications with volunteer managers over the past few weeks.
Late this afternoon, the Prime Minister has said that everyone in the UK should now avoid non-essential travel and contact with others.
Suspension of face-to-face activities
Given this guidance, all face-to-face Scout meetings, activities and events must be suspended from tomorrow, Tuesday, 17 March 2020. This suspension applies to young people and adults, and will be until further notice.
We must continue to respond to the developing situation in a calm, measured and appropriate way. We will continue to follow official guidance. The safety of everyone involved in Scouts, both young people and adults, is our number one priority. That is always at the heart of our decision making.
Given the latest Government guidance, we are cancelling the following events:
· Day of Celebration at Windsor
· Beaver and Cub Fundays at Gilwell Park and Woodhouse Park
· Gilwell 24
We will be communicating to specific audiences about these event cancellations over the next week. We'd ask that you wait for this information to be sent out rather than contacting us immediately, due to the volume of enquiries we are currently receiving.
If you or your team are involved in organising any future Scout events, you will now need to review these plans and risk assessments given this new guidance.
Jamborees and other large events
If applicable, we suggest you regularly check the websites of relevant large-scale events, for example, Jamborees and camps, for specific updates from the organisers.
The organisers of the European Jamboree 2020 in Poland have shared this update and continue to add to their frequently asked questions on the changing situation here. If applicable, please continue to monitor these updates.
Scout trips abroad
We asked the Government (the Department for Culture, Media and Sport) for clarity about youth groups travelling abroad, as the current advice only specifies school trips. We will let you know when we receive an update.
As well as the Government Coronavirus (COVID-19) webpage, the Foreign and Commonwealth Office website has the latest information, guidance and travel advice, along with details of any restrictions – which must be followed.
The Coronavirus (COVID-19) situation may have implications for your travel insurance. Check with your insurers directly about the levels of cover. If you have taken insurance through Unity, they have provided an update here.
Scout Information Centre
The Scout Information Centre will only be able to deal with emails and web chat until further notice. As you can imagine, we are experiencing an unprecedented level of enquiries at the moment, so please use the Government guidance as your primary reference where possible.
Keeping you updated
The Government have now committed to daily briefings. So we can keep you up to date, we have created a webpage: scouts.org.uk/coronavirus which we'll update from tomorrow.
Doing our bit
I think we all agree that it's in challenging times like these, that our Scout values matter most. We are talking to the Government and other community organisations to see how Scouts can support our country during this crisis. We must make sure that we do this in the safest possible way, and don't put anyone at further risk. We will update you more on this over the coming weeks.
Scouting at home
We are planning to share activities for young people to do at home with their parents if families are faced with self-isolation. We will be communicating more about this soon.
As always, I want to say a big thank you for everything you do for Scouts. By checking and following the latest Government advice and by taking a calm and measured approach, we can continue to ensure that young people and adults stay safe.
UK Chief Commissioner Scouts