We had a good meeting with Mark Betson of the CoE Recovery Group this after (Mark Regan, Phil Barnes and me). We agreed in principle that our guidance could be amended to reduce distance between ropes to 1m with mitigations, i.e. face coverings in our case. We will need to adopt some form or tracing procedure in case of a ringer testing positive for COVID after ringing, which is made easier by us knowing who we ring with.
(Note that any guidance on social distancing in countries other than England will override this 1m rule – it can only be applicable in England because 1m is in overall UK government guidance.)
We further agreed to develop a roadmap for more localised decision making based on differences in tower settings (ground floor, balconies, large ringing chambers etc) and geographical areas, bearing in mind that local restrictions might get increased as may be about to happen in Birmingham. This would use the widely used five level COVID scale.
We will also discussed the use of simulators for practice in church settings, and ringing for longer periods by members of a single household, both of which were agreed in principle.
We have to provide a tracked change version of our amended guidance for approval now. Mark said that such changes do not need to be referred to PHE provided we are not seeking permission to do something that is outside overall government guidance (which we are not).
I am not going to give a timetable for revised approval but intend to have revised draft guidance with them early next week. We have also had false dawns before so please stay patient. We were only able to meet Mark as his colleague Brendan was away, but hopefully they will be of one mind.
Ringing should be in accordance with current guidance for now, which is otherwise unchanged this week.