Reviewed 8th April 2021
What the NAS is doing to help members during the National Lockdown
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. This is a constantly changing situation and we will review this page on a regular basis.
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.
If you break the rules The police can take action against you if you meet in large groups. This includes breaking up illegal gatherings and issuing fines (fixed penalty notices).
You can be given a Fixed Penalty Notice of £200 for the first offence, doubling for further offences up to a maximum of £6,400. If you hold, or are involved in holding, an illegal gathering of over 30 people, the police can issue fines of £10,000.
HANDS: FACE: SPACE and only leave home for essential purposes
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 Convid-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. However, social activities on site must cease and you can only visit once a day; unless you need to visit more to care for livestock.
Can I visit the allotment with my family and friends?
You can use your plot to exercise once a day but you cannot meet with someone outside your household or support bubble there unless another exemption applies. www.gov.uk/guidance/national-lockdown-stay-at-home#exercising
If you do wish to bring someone to assist with work on the plot, please ensure that that this is notified either to the Secretary or Site Manager so that they can authorise and are aware of who is on site. It is essential that no un-authorised 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.
Can I drive to my plot? Yes, it is permissible to travel to access local green space to exercise and allotments are allowed to remain open. In a rural area you may have to travel further to the nearest available plot or cross boundaries. If you have concerns about the distance you need to travel to your plot please contact your local police force.
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 at least 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 or shielding 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.
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. Click Here for government advice around cleaning in non-healthcare settings.
The NAS does have further detailed information on risk assessments and the duty of care for Self-Managed Associations please email firstname.lastname@example.org if this is required.
Gatherings. Communal activities should cease for the duration of the lockdown.
Communal facilities. Communal rooms should remain closed. Toilets could possibly open, if the Association feel that they are able to fulfill a cleaning regime that reduces risk of transmission for users and volunteers. A full risk assessment must be carried out, for further advice contact email@example.com
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 https://www.wessexwater.co.uk/coronavirus. 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 (click here for de-gloving advice) and follow good practice around social distancing and hygiene.
AGMs should be postponed or held virtually. 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 March 2021.
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 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 March 2021, 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 firstname.lastname@example.org for further information and support.
Shared Machinery– please contact email@example.com 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. Air Quality can be checked at this link – CLICK HERE
Plot inspections – should be paused for the duration of the lockdown
Plot allocation should be paused for the duration of the lockdown
Tying gates open if it is safe to do so, so that walkers do not need to touch the gate.
There is no power under the Countryside and Rights of Way Act 2000 for landowners to close or obstruct a public right of way, however associations could put up a polite notice asking walkers to respect plot-holders by following social distancing guidelines and consider using alternative routes that do not pass through the allotment gardens.
Offering a permissive alternative route around gardens only where it is safe to do so (permission must be obtained from relevant landowners and steps must be taken to make sure the route is safe for users and livestock) provided that the original right of way is maintained. It is also necessary to check the insurance position before doing this to ensure that appropriate cover is in place.
Please see further advice from Natural England – Using Green Spaces and also guidance on the Countryside Code. NAS recommend that this issue is discussed further with the landowner, prior to any action been taken.
Click on the link to read about self isolating
Click on the link to read about social distancing
Click on the link to read some useful advice about hygiene Germ Defence
Government advice about the Coronavirus is updated on a regular basis at these links.
For NHS information and advice CLICK HERE