2020 AGM Covid-19 policy

Covid 19 Emergency Measures March 31st, 2020 Reviewed 4 November

What the NAS is doing to help members

The National Allotment Society is working to support plot holders and associations so that they can continue to work their plots and manage sites in a safe and secure manner during the pandemic. We are all living through a crisis, the likes of which the country has not experienced since war time. The community spirit that exists on allotment sites is now vitally important. Please remember to look out for one another during these very difficult times.
5 November – a new English national lockdown comes in to force. We have adjusted the advice below accordingly and will review on a regular basis.

Stay at Home, Protect the NHS, Save Lives

The UK government in England has included allotments as a space where you are permitted, during this month-long lockdown, to take some exercise. Please remember to carry on using social distancing and taking hygiene precautions when visiting the site and touching communal surfaces. Plot- holders over 70 years of age, regardless of general health are particularly vulnerable. It may feel safe on an allotment site but there are still risks.

Hands, Face, Space

NAS Q & A On Allotments and Social Distancing

Protect yourself and your family
Covid -19 – The virus that causes COVID 19 is mainly transmitted through droplets generated when an infected person coughs, sneezes or speaks. Some droplets are too heavy to hang in the air and they quickly fall and contaminate floors and surfaces. Other smaller airborne particles can remain in the air for some time. You can be infected by breathing in the virus if you are within close proximity of a person who has Covid-19 – hence the 2m social distancing requirement, or by touching a contaminated surface and then touching your eyes, nose or mouth before washing your hands.

Can I still work my allotment during the Covid19 lockdown?

Yes, allotments are a great way of both getting exercise and obtaining food during this crisis.

Can I visit the allotment with my family and friends?

It is permitted to visit your allotment during this month-long lockdown but you can only visit with your household, support bubble or one other person from another household if permitted by site/association rules and regulations.

How can I ensure my family’s and everyone else’s safety at the plot?

Do not attend the plot if you have coronavirus symptoms or a family member is self-isolating, this includes people who need to isolate after returning from holidays abroad.

Take a flask of hot water, soap and paper towels to the plot with you (cold water will work too).

Use hand sanitiser (should be 60% alcohol content) before entering the site and opening any gate locks

Wash hands for at least 20 seconds after closing the lock, dry with a paper towel

The most effective part of hand washing is the drying using preferably paper towel to remove the layer of dead skin scales – on which virus and bacteria sit. Paper towel to compost heap.

DO NOT touch your face after using anything that has been touched by other people – use an elbow to work the push taps.

Wash your hands again for 20 seconds, dry with a paper towel before opening and closing the lock to leave the site

Use hand sanitiser after closing the lock

Wash hands when you get home

Observe “Social Distancing” with each other 2 metres

If you take your children to the plot, ensure that they stay within its confines and do not run around on communal paths and spaces.

Do not share tools
Do not wash your hands in water troughs

I am self-isolating and cannot go to the allotment and worried

about losing my plot, what should I do?

Please make sure that you inform your Council Allotment Officer or Allotment Association that you are unable to visit the site, preferably in writing, so that they can make allowances for your situation.
What changes should Allotment Associations make to site management?

Pin up information about social distancing and hygiene on a notice board or the gate, there is a QR code at the bottom of this page that links to our updating page.

If you do wish to bring someone to assist with work on the plot, please ensure that that this is notified either to the Site Officers so that they can authorise and are aware of who is on site. It is essential that no unauthorised people are allowed onto the plots for the duration of this emergency. Careful consideration should be given to introducing anyone over 70, those with underlying illness or pregnant women.

Risk undertake risk assessments and take appropriate action to reduce hazards around any areas of the site that could cause contagion e.g. communal water troughs, equipment, taps, and gate locks. (The NAS does have further detailed information on risk assessments and the duty of care for Self-Managed Associations please email natsoc@nsalg.org.uk if this is required.)

Gatherings – Community Activities must stop during the lockdown.

All communal facilities including toilets should remain closed. The Society’s view is that most allotment association’s do not have the capacity to fulfil the necessary requirements to safely open and clean site toilets or communal buildings.

Communal Water Points many sites will have communal taps and water troughs, the use of which could potentially spread the disease. The water supply itself is chlorinated.

Associations may want to consider a system whereby volunteers fill up plot- holder’s water butts from the taps. The volunteers would wear single use gloves and follow good practice around social distancing and hygiene.

AGMs are right at the heart of member democratic control in co-ops and community businesses. We also know that because of COVID-19 and social distancing, our members have faced a number of dilemmas regarding how and when to hold their AGMs.

The Government has confirmed that co-operative and community benefit societies, in Great Britain and Northern Ireland, are covered by legislation that provides businesses with greater flexibility in how and when they hold their Annual General Meetings (AGMs), or any other General Meetings (GMs) until the end of 2020.

Back in March the government announced it would be legislating to give companies greater flexibility in how they approach AGMs and GMs in 2020.

Co-op UK worked with government to ensure legislation was extended to societies in a useful way.

The legislation gives societies legal certainty and comfort if they need to breach their rules, and usual good co-operative practice, by:

Holding their AGMs and GMs in ways that restrict in-person participation
 Holding their AGMs and GMs with online participation Delaying their AGMs and GMs

The legislation will initially provided this period of legal certainty and comfort up to the end of September 2020. Government has now confirmed that legislation has been extended to the end of December 2020, for societies in Great Britain and Northern Ireland, and may be reviewed again. The legislation will also apply retrospectively from 26 March, so any AGMs and GMs societies held from that date onwards are covered. Contact natsoc@nsalg.org.uk for further information and support.

Shops – it is now compulsory to wear a mask when inside a shop. The Society considers that unless you are able to comply with the stringent conditions within the Horticultural Trades Association guidance for Garden Centres that Allotment shops should remain physically closed with an online/ remote system in place.

Shared Machinery – please contact natsoc@nsalg.org.uk for detailed advice

Bonfires Please check with your Local Authority before authorising bonfires on the site. Garden bonfires contribute to air pollution, especially when green material is burnt.

Plot inspections – if you are still carrying out plot inspections they should be paused, do not penalise plot-holders who have been ill, shielding or stayed away from the plot because they are clinically vulnerable.
If you are unsure as to which tenants have been shielding or ill, one option of dealing with the situation would be (from the point at which plot inspections are re-instated) to regard all tenants as if they hold new tenancies and apply the relevant criteria in your tenancy agreements. For associations using the NAS model agreement that would mean you would expect a quarter of the cultivable area of the plot to be cultivated within the next three months and the whole within one year. This would give tenants who have been obliged to shield themselves a fair opportunity to restore their plots to good condition, taking into account the degeneration in plot condition that has occurred in their absence. In as much as we are about to enter autumn, this would mean in practice that tenants would just have to ensure that at least of the quarter is adequately prepared for the winter break and ready for spring cultivation.

In addition, it would be a good idea to insist that all material nuisances to other plot-holders resulting from non-cultivation be remedied within the same three months. This would mean, for example, the removal of grass seed heads and overhanging brambles.

Plot allocations – should be paused for the duration of the lockdown
If you are making a poster for the allotment gate, here is a QR code

that will link direct to our latest advice.