As campus starts to spring back to life after a six-month hiatus, we want to clear things up a little regarding the current Government guidance around coronavirus, to ensure the safety of everyone at Royal Holloway.
Right now, it’s all about the 'rule of six'. Put simply, that means up to six people from multiple households of any age can meet up both indoors or outdoors. On the face of it, the message is simple but in reality, there’s a whole host of caveats, exclusions and other interpretations of the legislation now that the legal guidance has been released.
So let’s tackle that and get to grips with what this means for life on campus.
It’s Freshers’ Festival, which would have historically meant a few late nights in the SU being introduced to the concept of VK as a currency. And that can still happen. Yes, the setup is different but you can still go to The Packhorse, Medicine, or one of our outdoor events on the SU Lawn.
The key rule here is that you remain in your group of six and do not mingle with other groups. That’s the main thing to understand here. Just because your mates are sitting on the table nearby, it doesn't give you license to go and have a natter with them. If you head out to a pub, be it one of our venues or one in the local area, you must stay in your pre-defined group.
Within our venues, we’ve put in place a whole host of additional measures to keep you and our staff safe, but we need to be clear that if you break the social distancing regulations by mingling you’ll find yourself being asked to leave.
First up, you can play sport and exercise in groups of up to six people provided that you maintain social distancing and do so in a safe manner. Unfortunately, as of right now you can’t just get together for an informal kick around if there are more than six of you.
The rules around organised sport become a little muddier due to the wide range of sports clubs we have, their affiliations with national governing bodies, and the facilities we have on campus. Due to the complexity of all this, we’re still working on the fine detail with the University and we’re looking to publish detailed guidance next week.
Going to the gym is perfectly fine and the College are currently re-opening the sports centre on a phased approach with limited numbers of memberships going on sale. This is to ensure they can safely manage the capacity of the gym and will continually be under review.
This circles back around to the rule of six. As of right now, that’s the limit for any in-person meetings which means a lot of the events our societies would normally host just aren’t feasible. However, we’re working hard with the University to secure facilities that would allow Covid-secure events to happen alongside detailed risk assessments and operational plans. We’ll release more on this next week alongside the sports update.
Despite this, you can of course join in with all the amazing virtual activity that our student groups are planning which will give you a taste of what being a member of that group will be like when things get back to normal.
There are a couple of other specific areas to be aware of that come under the rule of six which are best summarised through a Q&A session:
I live in a flat of 12 people, can I do activities in this household group?
The flats in halls of residence are all of varying size which makes cases such as this a semi-common occurrence. Technically, the government guidance stipulates that large families and households are exempt from the rule of six.
That said, we ask that you play your part and stick to moving about campus or doing activities in smaller groups of six. There are a number of reasons for this but central to it is ensuring the safety of everyone on campus. Remember, our venues can also only accommodate tables up to a maximum of six, so groups above this size will not be admitted.
You could though, book two separate tables in a venue and that would be absolutely fine. Just remember that when in the venue you cannot mingle with another table, we really can’t stress that enough.
If your friends are hanging out, is it okay to be in two groups of six so you can all be there?
Unfortunately, if you’re in two separate groups of six and you are interacting you are breaking the regulations.
I’ve heard universities are exempt, does that mean we can gather in a larger group?
The exemptions that apply to universities are extremely complex. Generally, the exemptions cover attendance at seminars and lectures and do not apply to the wider range of university life. That means anything happening in our venues or other social events are all subject to the rule of six.
On the topic of social events, please play your part and resist the temptation to gather in larger groups outside your halls of residence or in your student house. Respect the local community, your new housemates, and the wider student body.
I’ve moved into my halls of residence. Is this my new household or can I still go home?
Guidance from the Department for Education in England states that when you move into your student accommodation this will become your current household. Normally, a household in halls of residence is considered students living in the same flat/house who share a kitchen and/or bathroom rather than an entire block.
So in the eyes of the current legislation, when you move into your student accommodation, you leave your old household (your family home) and start a new one (your student digs).
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