Dear Bendigo Orienteers,
No doubt you have all been watching the circumstances surrounding coronavirus. Things have been escalating for a few weeks and it is a forgone conclusion that the situation will get worse before it gets better. Recent interviews from several medical experts indicate that authorities aren’t doing enough to curb the spread of COVID19. While the Federal Government has implemented a ban on gatherings of 500+ people, in Austria, gatherings of 5+ people have been banned. The possibility exists that there may be a tightening of restrictions at orienteering events (some Orienteering Associations in Europe have either a 100-person limit or a total ban).
The events being held over the next two weekends at Kooyoora/Mount Korong (March 21/22) and Mount Alexander as well as Autumn Series #2 at Mount Tarrengower (March 28/29) will go ahead as planned (unless tighter bans come in to play from the government).
Given medical advice is changing almost on a daily basis, for April events and beyond, the club Committee will review the situation and make a decision at the April 6 meeting. After March 28, Bush Classic #3 is the next event and is not until April 18. Be advised that cancellations may have to be made at short notice, so keep an eye on both your email inbox as well as the Eventor site.
In the meantime, organizers are encouraged to continue as normal, planning courses and events. Although disappointing, if events need to be cancelled, the work is not lost as they can be transferred to the 2021 calendar. Orienteering Australia has developed useful guidelines for competitors and organizers that I have reproduced below. Keep in mind that some of the points listed will be relevant to large events only.
Guidance for Competitors
You must not come to any Australian orienteering event or activity if you fall into one of the following categories.
· If you are unwell with a cough or fever or other respiratory symptoms. This is particularly so for people who have recently travelled from overseas.
· If you have been a close contact of a confirmed case of COVID-19 until 14 days after having contact with a confirmed case even if they are completely symptom free.
· If you have returned from or transited through a listed higher risk country (currently mainland China, Iran, Italy, South Korea), until 14 days after leaving the country.
· If you are undergoing COVID-19 testing until you have received your results
· If you have been advised to stay at home by a health professional.
Event organisers should look at opportunities to reduce the risk of close contact for orienteers, officials and volunteers:
· No drinks controls or water at start or finish for competitors. Any drinks at controls must have a volunteer stationed to ensure good hygiene or ask competitors to carry water.
· Asking competitors to bring their own hand sanitisers.
· Providing hand washing or sanitising facilities at the assembly area if possible.
· Asking all that attend to follow good hygiene practices.
· Providing refunds to those that absent themselves for health reasons
· Checking first aid kits have thermometers and emergency local contact information is known.
· No results (make available on line) or presentations at events.
· Maps will be kept by competitors following finish at all events.
· Providing some protective equipment, disinfectant and briefing to event volunteers.
· Arranging starts and finishes to allow 1m distance between people
Event organisers should draw attention to the Competition Guidance (above). And they should provide information in advance (e.g. about the personal hygiene facilities available at the event) to help people in make an informed decision as to whether to compete.