Members enjoying a netwalk in June 2021 at Rainton Meadows nature reserve

As face-to-face events return, we’ve tried to answer all your FAQs

Published by Graham Soult

Last updated: 6 July 2021

After 15 long months, we’re so excited to once again be meeting our members in person!

In June, our wild breakfast and netwalk around Rainton Meadows nature reserve brought members together again for the first time since March 2020, and we have now opened booking for a face-to-face breakfast at The Food Pit in Durham on Tuesday 27 July.

In the meantime, we’ve prepared these FAQs to help answer any queries you might have as face-to-face events make a cautious, but hopefully permanent, return.

Why are face-to-face events returning now?

Step 3 of the government’s “roadmap out of lockdown” was implemented as planned on 17 May, and these are the rules that still (as of 6 July) currently apply.

This step made it possible for up to 30 people to meet outdoors socially. Though not widely publicised, larger numbers could from that date attend an outdoor event, such as a business or networking event, subject to capacity caps based on the size of the venue, and as long as those groups of up to 30 were not mixing with each other.

Indoor social gatherings were still limited to six people or two households from 17 May, though again the rules for indoor business events were different. Venues – such as meeting rooms or hotel function suites – could only operate at 50% capacity, and attendees had to follow similar rules to those that applied in hospitality, such as observing social distancing, and wearing face coverings when moving around indoors.

The government website includes a guide to organising events, aimed at local authorities but applicable to other event organisers too.

For our first event, in the open air on 22 June, we chose to follow the rules for socialising, rather than the slightly less restrictive business event rules.

Aren’t all legal limits on social contact being lifted on 19 July?

Yes – the date was pushed back from 21 June until 19 July, and the prime minister announced on 5 July that he expects legal limits to be removed on 19 July as planned. We have to wait until 12 July for this to be confirmed.

The removal of all legal limits on social contact will effectively signal a return to “normal”, with no requirements any more for social distancing, or restrictions on how many people can gather in any one place.

Our event on 27 July is unaffected by any changes, however, as it is already operating well within the existing rules.

I’m not ready for face-to-face events yet – will your online events continue?

Absolutely, yes. We recognise that while many members are itching to get back together in person, others won’t yet feel ready to do so.

For that reason, we intend to continue holding our popular virtual networking events on the Remo platform for the foreseeable future, even as face-to-face events return alongside.

Details of our next Remo event will be announced shortly.

Will you now be holding more face-to-face events?

That’s the idea! By holding a small event first, last month, it gave us some useful insights into how best to do things, how much interest there is, and to gather feedback from members about what they would like to see next. 2021 is also our 40th anniversary, of course, though the timescales involved in planning large-scale events – and the lack of certainty until now – mean that we intend to hold our 40th anniversary celebration in 2022 instead.

If all limits on social contact are lifted as planned on 19 July, pre-Covid-style events can effectively return straight away, though we will continue to take things slowly and make sure that our members and host venues are comfortable with what we are doing.

What else can I do to keep myself and others safe?

We all know the “Hands. Face. Space. Fresh Air” mantra by now, and (weather permitting) we hope to make good use of the outdoor space at The Food Pit. When you attend our events, do all the things you would normally do when you head out anywhere, including having some sanitiser to hand, and bringing a face covering (for when you need to go to the loo, for example).

Just because England is reopening, it certainly doesn’t mean that Covid-19 has gone away, and we should all continue to do what we can to keep ourselves and others safe. For example, taking a rapid lateral flow test beforehand can also be a good way of helping prevent the potential spread of the virus. If you need any tests, they can now be ordered free of charge via the government website, or picked up for free at your local pharmacy. You take the test at home, and it gives you a result in 30 minutes.

It goes without saying that if you have any Covid-19 symptoms, you must stay at home and order a free PCR test.

I have a different question – how can I contact you?

Just get in touch in all the usual ways – we’ll be delighted to help.