BTO and COVID-19

BTO and COVID-19

24 Mar 2020

BBS volunteer. Photograph by David Tipling

This statement was updated on 24.03.2020.

The spread of COVID-19 (Coronavirus) is having a significant impact on our lives and is likely to continue to do so over the coming months. BTO is taking this threat seriously, with utmost concern for the health and wellbeing of our staff, volunteers and members, and those communities with which we interact.

It is vital that our staff, volunteers and members follow the latest government advice in order to prevent the spread and transmission of infection. The monitoring work undertaken by BTO staff and volunteers makes a useful contribution to society, but these are exceptional times and the government advice published on 23.03.2020 is clear that we should remain at home as much as possible.

BTO Surveys in the wider countryside

BTO’s senior leadership team has reviewed the government advice and is asking our networks of volunteers to follow the advice and remain at home. Do not travel to survey squares or fieldwork sites, or participate in BTO surveys and monitoring if by doing so you would be in breach of the government advice. Please do not leave your home to carry out a survey operated by BTO.

The government has said that the restrictions announced on 23 March will initially last for three weeks, at which point they will look at them again and relax them if the evidence shows this is possible. We will continue to monitor the government advice, including the review planned for 13 April, and will update our statement accordingly. We will continue to provide updates to our survey volunteers on anything that relates to specific surveys and projects - please look to the survey webpages for this information.

The health of our volunteers is very important to us, as are our relationships with the landowners who so generously allow us onto their land. It is likely that survey coverage will be much reduced this year (as it was during the Foot & Mouth outbreak of 2001), but monitoring is very much a long-term project which will not suffer unduly from the occasional short-term crisis.

BTO offices and working arrangements

We have put steps in place to minimise disruption to our work and core charitable activities. Please note that our staff are now working from home, but can be contacted by email or through our website. We have also put in place mechanisms to enable people to contact the BTO over the telephone. Our online sales operation remains open for now, and we will continue to receive and fulfill orders placed through our website.    

The health of yourselves and your families is important. If you or those close to you are impacted by the virus, we wish you a swift recovery. Whether you are entering old birdwatching records from your notebooks into BirdTrack, or are watching or recording the birds in your garden, stay safe and keep well.

The BTO Team

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