Being COVID-Secure and taking part in Samhuinn

A message to the membership, from the board:

We are so excited to be announcing this Samhuinn’s Groups, Court, and festival plans, and we hope that you’re super excited too! We are also aware that this upcoming festival will be the first time in a long while that some of you will have met up, and will be restarting your discovery of activities and ways of living that we’d been accustomed to prior to the pandemic. 

The Beltane Fire Society Board of Trustees have considered the risks and have come up with what we think is a balanced approach to our return, which protects and prioritizes the wellbeing of volunteers and community members. And it starts with this plea:

PLEASE GET THE VACCINE.

Beltane Fire Society strongly urges all members who are able to, to take up the coronavirus vaccination. Here are just some of the reasons why:

Protecting the most vulnerable: some of our members have not been able to have the vaccine and some members of our society are in a high risk category, and some of our members are in both camps. Taking the vaccine greatly reduces the risk that you pose to these members of our community (both in reducing the transmission risk and in the event that you do catch the virus —the strength of the viral load is reduced through vaccination).   Some of our groups may choose to only accept vaccinated members.  We will support this on a case by case basis where the group’s risk assessment demonstrates that this is necessary.

Protecting yourself: The vaccine has been demonstrated to provide high levels of protection against the most serious symptoms of COVID. It also helps reduce the transmission rates and the likelihood of new variants emerging.

Protecting Beltane’s future: The Beltane Fire Society is facing critical challenges at the moment, persuading the local authorities and emergency services that our amazing events will be safe. We are aware that the transient nature of the global Beltane family has been hit hard, and as a result we are predicting lower participation numbers as there have been less opportunities to inspire like-minded souls to join in. It is a difficult time and if BFS are seen to be the cause of a transmission superspreading event, it could spell the end of the organisation —taking the vaccine reduces the chances of our events being superspreader events.

Possible future implications for participation and attendance: No one knows what the future will bring. The Trustees believe it’s possible that by the end of October, spectators at events and participants in Marches and Parades (Samhuinn) may have to demonstrate their vaccination status to take part. In the event that this becomes the case, we will have to comply.

TAKING TESTS REGULARLY

In line with Scottish Government guidelines, we’ll be asking you to take two Lateral Flow Tests every week. If you’re in a group which meets up in person this Samhuinn, you may also be asked to test on particular days, so as to minimise the chances of accidentally bringing the virus to a rehearsal/practice/social meetup.

In order to participate in the Fire Festival itself and at walkthroughs (when much larger numbers of our members congregate) you will be required to provide evidence of a recent negative Lateral Flow Test (LFT).

OTHER PRECAUTIONS BFS expects you to take:

  • Wearing a face covering at all indoors BFS meetings, unless specifically permitted otherwise
  • Using well ventilated spaces, or meeting outdoors whenever possible
  • Washing your hands regularly – bring some hand sanitizer with you
  • Being led by Risk Assessment and Group Consent
  • Practising vigilance outside your group and household circles to minimise the risk of bringing the virus in.
  • Not to discuss the Samhuinn route and timings outside of your Beltane group
  • Not coming to practices/rehearsals if you are feeling unwell – let’s end the ‘Beltane Lurgy’ (Let your GO know that you won’t be there)

The Ever-Evolving Scenario 

As we’re all acutely aware, this pandemic has evolved and changed with alarming irregularity, along with the restrictions, legislation and guidance created to address it. There have been reams of documents to trawl through to get to the position that we’re in, where we can feel cautiously confident that the festival will happen. That being said, while every effort is being made to pull together a Samhuinn night to remember, we must all remain aware that things can change quickly. 

The board and its contractors will work to keep this guidance up to date, and all associated activities will be fully assessed and participants made aware of any changes. The board has prepared a series of contingency plans, but we really do hope that we don’t need to use any of them..

As a community, our first priority is the protection and wellbeing of all our volunteers. While we aren’t mandating vaccination for any individual —and we will not, unless government legislation changes— we do strongly push for everyone in our festivals to get vaccinated if they can. This will enable us to protect each other, especially those of us who are unable to be vaccinated and most at risk from Covid-19. We also intend for groups to partake in regular covid testing during the run up and practices, with a negative covid test result required to take part in Samhuinn itself.

As Scottish Government guidance and legislation changes, it may well become necessary for those taking part in large gatherings to be vaccinated, and if this is the case we will abide by this. As a final reminder, if at any point you are ill with symptoms resembling Covid, cold, flu, or stomach bug/food poisoning, please do not attend BFS practices or social events.

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