On Tuesday 23rd February the First Minister provided Scottish Parliament with an update on COVID-19 and the related restrictions. Full details of the government strategy can be found here: Coronavirus (COVID-19): Strategic Framework update - February 2021. Page 14 summarises the key points.
The big highlight from a Shinty perspective is that, with continued progression and effectiveness of the COVID-19 vaccine and the tools being used to combat COVID-19, we may be in a position to return to ‘level’ based guidance at the end of April. Under the current forecasts from Scottish Government this could mean a return to Shinty for youths and for some adults dependent on local level restrictions from as early as the 26th April.
In setting the context, the First Minister stated at this stage we need to continue to be cautious and patient. She also said there are much firmer grounds for optimism now that we have vaccinations and the other tools at our disposal offering us a route back to greater normality. It was also made clear there is quite limited scope for easing restrictions at this stage based on the public health advice.
The statement set out indicative dates to return to a system of levels from the last week of April. The key points, relevant to sport are detailed below:
- Education: Return of P4-7 pupils to schools full-time. More but not all secondary pupils returning to school at least part-time. (Full details to be confirmed next week)
- Sport: Non-contact outdoor group sport permitted for 12 to 17 year olds (this is already permitted for under 12s).
- Gatherings: Outdoor meetings of 4 people from 2 households permitted.
- Stay at home: Stay at home requirement removed.
- Education: Return to full-time in person education for all remaining school pupils.
- Gatherings: Outdoor meetings of 6 people from 2 households permitted.
- Economy: More retail businesses being classified as essential. Click-and-collect permitted for non-essential retail.
- Strategic (Levels) Framework: Return to a levels system, which includes regional variation based on data. Further detail will be published in mid-March.
- Level 3: Initially the intention is that mainland Scotland will move to level 3. The islands currently at level 3 may drop to level 2, based on data.
- Shinty: The levels system will support the phased re-opening of sport. The detail of what activity will be permitted in each level will be confirmed in mid-March.
It is important to note that the timings are indicative and any changes will be driven by the data. It should also be noted that the dates set-out by UK Government on 22nd February do not apply to Scotland. The Camanachd Association staff and members of the Covid Working Group will meet next Tuesday 2nd March to review current guidance for clubs and associations. Any provisional plans from this and Scottish Governments update in mid March will be communicated at the earliest opportunity. In addition the Camanachd Association Competitions Committee and the Women’s Camanachd Association are also meeting next Tuesday evening to consider the latest guidance.
The most exciting part of this announcement is that it presents the first indication for when shinty can return. If we continue to progress positively then youth shinty may be possible from 26th April. Further information will be provided in the coming days on what that is likely to look like, however, the core action to ensure the youth game is ready to return is for all clubs to complete their registration forms for competitions. A number of clubs have already returned these which are essential to complete plans for local fixtures and competitions.
We will continue to work with colleagues in Scottish Government on the specific details directly related to shinty and will communicate this to you in due course. If you have any questions or need any support our team of Regional Development Officers are working hard with local clubs and communities to support the restarting of our game. Please get in touch or speak to your local Regional Development Officer if you have any queries. Their contact details can be found here
- National Development Manager E: firstname.lastname@example.org T: 07894588538
- Regional Development Manager (East) E: email@example.com T: 07718630563
- Regional Development Officer (North) E: firstname.lastname@example.org T: 07834522260
- Regional Development Officer (Central) E: email@example.com T: 07921210179
- Operations Manager/Regional Development Officer (West) : E: firstname.lastname@example.org T: 07912731295