WeBS Covid-19 guidance
BTO published a new statement on COVID-19 on 13 November. We ask that WeBS volunteers follow this advice, and the specific guidance below.
England, Scotland, Wales, Northern Ireland, Bailiwicks of Guernsey & Jersey and Isle of Man: You may undertake your WeBS counts provided you follow the social distancing guidelines and adhere to any local lockdown restrictions. You should feel under no pressure to visit your WeBS site if you do not feel comfortable doing so, or if you are concerned about the impacts of carrying out survey work on relations with landowners or other members of the public. Please act in the spirit of any current guidance in the country in which you are operating, and be aware of any local restrictions on travel that may be imposed at times.
This provides an update on the latest changes to the restrictions imposed fieldwork resulting from government guidance reviews, following the communication on 6 November. We advise all volunteers to carry a copy of this guidance with them when surveying to explain to others what they are doing.
The guidance issued on 6 November, regarding survey activities under the English lockdown legislation, was based on the government interpretation that BTO volunteers could only undertake such work outside the boundary of their place of residence under the exemption to ‘visit a public outdoor space for the purposes of recreation’. Restrictions currently imposed in England are, however, less restrictive than those imposed in the spring, both with respect to exemptions for leaving the house and to covid security measures. Following recent discussions, we have received a revised steer from JNCC and Natural England indicating that biodiversity monitoring meets the criterion for Exception 2, constituting a ‘voluntary or charitable service’. The upshot of this change in interpretation is that surveying in England can now be undertaken on private sites as well as on publicly accessible land, as long as the surveying activity is undertaken alone, within your household/support bubble, or with a maximum of one other person from a different household present. As always, please respect the wishes of the landowner.
While there are no explicit travel restrictions in place in England, the fundamental purpose of the new government guidance is clearly to minimise contact with others; we would urge all volunteers to consider this carefully and limit travel to the local area wherever possible.
While volunteers in Scotland continue to work to the FISA guidelines, we do continue to strongly encourage all volunteers to act in the spirit of the government guidance issued to the general public, and follow the specific travel guidance provided by Scottish Government, to minimise the potential for Covid transmission.
In Wales, new regulations came into force on Monday 9 November and a key change is that there are no travel restrictions within Wales. However, Welsh Government are asking everyone to think carefully about the journeys they take and the people they meet.
In Northern Ireland, the current restrictions introduced on 16 October remain in place till 20 November.
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