The last few months have been very challenging for everyone and the suspension of activities was necessary. Now in consultation with all of the Irish Pony Club committees, a plan has been created to support Branches and provide details of guidelines and measures which Branches must follow when deciding to return to activity.
While reading these plans and documents, it is important to be mindful that we are still in the middle of a global and national pandemic. It is our responsibility to be constantly vigilant to prevent the outbreak of Covid-19 in our area, as a result of our activities. Therefore, Branches have been encouraged to take every precaution necessary and recommended throughout this process. Social distancing measures will remain with us for the foreseeable future and we must take care to continue to implement them.
The Irish Pony Club Returning to Activity Plan sets out a four-step plan that aims to allow Branches to return gradually to activity in line with phases 2, 3, 4 and 5 of the Governments Roadmap to Reopening Society and Business. Monitoring, review and evaluation will be undertaken during all phases of this plan. If required, these guidelines will be updated and revised guidelines will be distributed and published. The full plan can be downloaded through the link below.
Each Branch must carry out a risk assessment to identify whether they are in a position to return to activities. The Returning to Activity Plan has been created to support Branches in preparing for this. However, Branches should not and will not be forced to return to activities, until they can fulfil all of the requirements and guidance notes set out in the plan.
Branches are not required to return to activity with the onset of this plan. Branches must use their discretion and risk assessment protocols to identify what is in the best interests of health and safety for their officials, volunteers, members and parents. However, if the decision is made to return to activity, all of the guidelines noted in this plan must be adhered to. These are the minimum standards that must be applied to allow members to return for training.
Branches must now identify a Covid-19 Compliance Officer for the Branch and for all activities. An explanation of the role and responsibility of this officer has been included in the Irish Pony Club Returning to Activity Plan. The instructions of the Covid-19 Compliance Officer must be obeyed at all times. The Covid-19 Compliance Officer will be required to maintain accurate details of the risk assessments and measures implemented by the Branch. The Covid-19 Compliance Officer must also ensure that a log is maintained for everyone entering and leaving the premises. This document will be necessary if contact tracing is required and we must be able to identify exactly who was on site at all times. Consequently, members and parents will notice changes to application forms and the way that activities will be conducted. These measures have been developed in the interest of the health and safety of everyone involved and should not be ignored.
At all times the guidelines of the Government, the Department of Health and the Health Service Executive supersede any guidelines noted in this document. Failure to comply with the guidelines provided by the Government and subsequently detailed in this document for Branches may result in the further suspension of Branch activities. Safety is of paramount importance at this stage. There will be no tolerance of non-compliance. Any individual found in breach of the guidelines set out in this plan should be asked to leave and should be barred from participation at future activities.
Branches have been asked to consider these documents, liaise with their local venues, risk assess their individual situation and decide how and when they can begin to return their Branch to activity. Depending on their individual circumstances, this may vary between Branches. These Branch decisions will be based around ensuring the continued health and safety of their members and volunteers. Once a Branch plan has been formulated, Branches will provide information and instructions to their members informing them of their plan. While everyone is looking forward to the day when Branch activities can take place, it is important to note that this should only happen when the activity can be managed safely, with full compliance to the guidelines set out in this plan. Be mindful that Branch volunteers and officials are now working to analyse this document and identify if and how they can implement the measures outlined in it. This may take a little bit of time. Be assured that once Branches have had the time to discuss, risk assess and form a plan for their Branch that they will contact their members.
Summary of key points:
- Persons (members, parents and volunteers) willing to attend an Irish Pony Club activity must risk assess their own situation to see how safe it is first.
- Members and parents should acquire their own hand sanitiser to support their own safety and follow good hand washing practices before, during and after activities. Branches will provide PPE and hand sanitisation equipment for officials and instructors.
- Social distance must be observed at all times.
- Gatherings are strictly prohibited.
- Respiratory etiquette and good hygiene practices must be implemented throughout.
- The Covid-19 Compliance officer must be obeyed at ALL times.
- Social distancing will be in place in parking areas. There must be at least 5m between each vehicle. The directions of the parking steward or the Compliance Officer must be followed at all times.
- There will be no camps or overnight residential stays during 2020.
- There will be no Branch tests during steps 1, 2 or 3. Tests will be reviewed during step 4 based on the situation within the country at the time.
- Branch activities will be smaller going forwards and, to maintain separation, will have to run slower.
- Department of Health and government travel guidelines must be followed at all times. Parents and members should not travel beyond the current travel guidelines to attend a Branch activity.
- No spectators or additional family members to attend the activity. Only those required to assist the member prepare for the activity.
- Over 70's must follow the governments guidelines during each phase of the Roadmap to Reopening Ireland.
- Any person displaying symptoms associated with Covid-19 (Fever, Cough, Shortness of Breath or Breathing Difficulties), people who have been in close contact of a confirmed case, people who are considered in a high-risk group, or those caring for somebody in a vulnerable category should not attend any Branch activities.
This Irish Pony Club Returning to Activity Plan provides a framework in which we must operate in order to comply with the new measures that we must introduce for the safe return of our Branches to activity. This approach will allow us all time to assess how we can operate under these new protocols to ensure we create a safe environment for our members, volunteers, and officials.