An update for all members of Students’ Union student groups, including sports, societies, academic societies, Campaigns Network and the International Students’ Association.
Following the Government’s recent announcement about the new ‘Rule of Six’, we need to update you on what the change in rules on socialising outside of the household mean for SU student groups, including sports, societies and Campaigns Network groups and the International Students’ Association.
The national change in the law was discussed in detail at an extraordinary Board of Trustees meeting held last week.
The Board of Trustees are responsible for all activities and operations at the Students’ Union and are accountable to the Charity Commission, as the government’s regulatory body. The Board has a statutory duty to ensure that all activities of the Students’ Union, including that of all student members who participate in any of our student groups or activities, are legal and protect the welfare of students.
The Board of Trustees have worked with the University to ensure we can continue to support our student members in a COVID-secure way and so we have summarised below what this change means for SU student groups.
The Rule of Six
The new "Rule of Six" in England prohibits social gatherings of more than six people in any setting, indoors or outdoors. There are some important exemptions, such as gatherings for education or work purposes, and team sports organised in a COVID-19 secure way and in accordance with that sports’ National Governing Body. The limit does not apply to meetings of a single household group (eg. if you live with more than six people).
Certain venues following COVID-19 secure guidelines - including Students' Union licensed venues - can hold more than six people but there must be no individual groups larger than six, and groups should not mix to form larger groups.
The Government has said the “Rule of Six” will be kept under constant review and will only remain in place as long as necessary.
The current restrictions mean that any gathering by SU student groups in student houses, seminar rooms or outdoor spaces is prohibited if more than six people are present. Therefore, after discussions with the University, the Board have mandated, where it is reasonably possible that all of our student groups continue to hold all of their meetings and socials online whilst the current restriction is in place.
Booking of COVID-secure Venues
As outlined above, COVID-secure licensed venues can host more than six people where social distancing is in place as long as no one group is larger than six, and groups do not mix into larger groups. This is because licensed premises employ a designated individual responsible for maintaining social distancing and a COVID secure environment. Licensed premises does not just mean a premise that can serve alcohol. Many cafes, churches, and meeting spaces will have a premises licence to allow them to carry out a licensable activity such as showing films or playing music.
Therefore, student groups can continue to pre-book tables of up to six in licensed premises on campus or in Lincoln (for example The Swan, Towers, Engine Shed, Home, Mailbox, Walkabout etc.). The committees of our student groups must take responsibility for the conduct of their members at these sorts of gatherings, to make sure that COVID-secure behaviour is followed.
It is the licensed premises’ duty to ensure that the venue and everyone in it are COVID secure, so there must be no mixing between tables, and you must arrive and leave as groups of six or below (not as one large group) in order to comply with the law. Venues may turn you away or ask you to leave if they suspect the rules are being broken.
All SU events, socials, meetings, taster sessions and fundraisers (whether online or in-person) must have an Event Application submitted through the Student Dashboard with the relevant Risk Assessment for the event and proof of venue hire attached. This will be reviewed for approval, before any events are allowed to go ahead.
The local authorities, police, the University and the SU can take action if student groups are found to be breaking the rules. Anyone who organises or attends an illegal gathering can be fined by police. Any SU student group that acts improperly could have funding withdrawn or be disbanded, as per the Students’ Union disciplinary procedure.
Arrangements for SU sports teams, when playing and training.
Under the new Government rules, team sports can take place in numbers greater than six if the activity is formally organised by a sports club or similar organisation and sports governing body guidance has been issued.
All SU sports teams must act in accordance with their sports national governing body (NGB) guidance. Your NGB should provide you with maximum capacity numbers, restrictions on contact, equipment and PPE guidance. If your sport does not have a recognised NGB, unfortunately, you cannot train in numbers greater than six.
Travelling to and from permitted sports training and fixtures, must also be carried out in line with NGB guidance. If no guidance exists then either public transport must be used in line with Government restrictions, or the Rule of Six must be adhered to.
Before you return to play, you must gather your NGB’s most recent guidance, COVID secure documentation from any external facilities you are using, and update your club’s risk assessments. This needs to be uploaded in an Event Application on the Student Dashboard, at least seven working days before your first session back. This will be reviewed for approval, before any training or games are allowed to go ahead.
Following the most recent government guidelines, indoor team sports where more than 6 people are present are prohibited. NGB’s are currently working to clarify what this means for individual sports and we will keep working with teams confirm what they can and cannot do. Currently, the decisions of whether training and playing sessions can happen will be on a case-by-case basis, at the point of an Event Application being submitted.
Abi has also recorded this update here:
We understand that our sports clubs and societies want to serve the best interests of their members, and get back to ‘normal’ activities as soon as possible. Both the SU and the University will continue to monitor the latest Government guidance and respond accordingly, to keep all our community safe and observe the law, while offering the richest variety of experiences and opportunities we can.
We must all work together to protect our campus community and our friends and neighbours in communities across the city.
We will support you as much as we can to ensure you have a great year ahead – and will of course update you as circumstances change.
If you have any questions about how this affects your SU clubs and societies, whether as a member or and organiser, please email the Students’ Union on [email protected].