We met last night (18 August) with the Regional Commissioners and – with helpful input from legal and medical professionals – are working to understand not only what is legally permissible in terms of Scouting activities, but also what is in the best interest of our members. Having heard the input of our RC’s and professional advisors, we are in the process of redrafting the list of permitted activities for SSA under Lockdown Level 2.
Just because we are theoretically allowed to meet in bigger groups, doesn’t necessarily mean that this would be in the best interest of our membership. SSA and its members have an obligation to curb the spread of the virus and keep ourselves and our fellow South Africans safe. Our current circumstance provides us all with an opportunity to learn that if social distancing is practised strictly, we could return to some form of normality in the near future. Until an approved vaccine has been found, social distancing is here to stay and we need to embrace it and lead by example.
Under Lockdown Level 3 we already started the process of engagement with the relevant government departments to secure permission to operate under more clearly defined guidelines. The response to our application is taking some time but when granted, it would provide protection to all of our members from any legal ramifications, and would allow a wider range of activities to take place.
We are currently reviewing the limitations on specific activities, the numbers allowed to participate in activities, the face to face meeting of branches that have not yet opened, and the requirements on Groups that wish to reopen and operate their halls. We are also using this time to consult with the police to better understand the instructions they are operating under in enforcing the regulations.
The common sentiment from the national and regional leadership is that we all wish to see more Scouting happening as soon as possible. But, we need to balance that against the risk to a volunteer adult facing arrest due to a different interpretation of the regulations by a police officer, or the consequences of an activity becoming the source of a wide outbreak of infections.
We have also started to explore the possibility of some of our larger events being permitted under the current regulations, which this relaxation appears to make possible with some fairly strict precautions in place.
We intend to have an information session on Thursday 27 August at 19:00 (more details to follow) and publish the revised internal SSA regulations on Monday 31 August 2020. Until then the current regulations regarding the limitation to small group activities with appropriate social distancing remain in place.
We thank you all for you continued commitment to the young people of SA under these challenging circumstances, and the creativity and quite frankly astounding solutions you have come up with to keep on despite the restrictions, but also for your adherence to the recommended safe practices.
Yours in Scouting,