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COVID-19 (Coronavirus) Update – March 17, 2020
By Christo Peters - Tue 17 Mar 2020 11:18pm
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Covid-19 Novel Coronavirus Information and Updates

Update: 20 March 2020 – The guidelines in this news item have been superseded by Coronavirus (COVID-19) Revised Club Guidelines – March 20, 2020

As advised previously, Orienteering New Zealand (ONZ) has been monitoring the situation around COVID-19 closely, and following the advice provided by the Ministry of Health. As people will be aware, the situation is changing rapidly. The recent decision by the Government to restrict major events and impose self-isolation conditions on travelers and others, as well as the decision by School Sports NZ to suspend all national secondary schools sporting events, has major ramifications for orienteering.

The ONZ Council has met on this and, in consultation with key stakeholders, made some decisions with regards hosting major orienteering events. We have also developed some guidelines for clubs to use in relation to club events which clubs may find useful. Details on these decisions and guidelines are shared below. Of course, these decisions and guidelines are based on the situation as it currently stands. We will continue to monitor the situation closely and, should further actions be required, communicate this in due course.

NZ ORIENTEERING CHAMPS (“NATIONALS”) POSTPONED

Orienteering New Zealand in consultation with Orienteering Wellington have made the decision to postpone the Orienteering New Zealand National Championships. This event was scheduled to be held 10-13 April. A number of factors influenced this decision, including the ban on gatherings of 500 people or more, and loss of access to the sprint map due to restrictions imposed by the School (landowner) due to COVID-19. Together with Orienteering Wellington, we felt that making this decision gives people certainty, allowing them to change travel plans and make cancellations early, hopefully minimising financial loss for entrants.

Orienteering Wellington will follow up with all who have entered to offer refunds. A decision on an alternative date will be communicated to you once we have a clearer view on realistic time-frames and suitable dates. In the meantime, we are hopeful that the event will still be run on the excellent maps planned for Easter; hence these areas remain under embargo for orienteering.

ONZ GENERAL MEETING – WILL STILL GO AHEAD “VIRTUALLY” 7.30PM WEDNESDAY 15 APRIL

The Orienteering New Zealand Annual General Meeting (AGM) that was scheduled to be held during Nationals will now be a virtual AGM and an invite for this will go out to all clubs this week.  This will take place as a zoom (video) meeting on Wednesday 15 April between 7:30pm and 8:30pm.  Although this is a change of format, it is still essential that all clubs have a voting delegate attend the meeting, and of course this is an open public meeting as well, which anyone can attend. An agenda will be produced and sent out prior to the meeting, and we see this as a chance for orienteers to voice any views, ask questions, and participate as per usual, albeit from the comfort of a home PC! We will also announce the recipients of the annual ONZ awards at the AGM, however anticipate these may be repeated in a formal awards ceremony in person at Nationals when it is held in due course. Whilst we are living in unusual and unique circumstances, we should not lose sight of many of the good things that the sport is about, so hope people will join in on this event online.

CLUB FORUM POSTPONED

The Club Forum which was planned to be held prior to the AGM will be postponed as well and undertaken when the nationals is held in due course. In the meantime, we have the Club Presidents call happening on 31st March, which will allow key issues to be discussed that affect clubs nationally. We remain committed to continuing to engage with clubs and find ways that allow good communication to happen between members and ONZ as we move forwards.

NATIONAL SCHOOLS ORIENTEERING EVENTS – SUSPENDED

The decision by the Schools Sports NZ to suspend all secondary school events on their national calendar impacts a number of planned orienteering events including: North Island Secondary Schools Champs, South island Secondary Schools Champs, NZ Secondary Schools Champs, and NZ Secondary Schools Rogaine Champs. Clubs associated with running these events should monitor the Schools Sports NZ website and news for updates, and revise plans accordingly.

NZ ATHLETES AND TEAMS FOR INTERNATIONAL EVENTS

We are monitoring updates from the IOF and relevant bodies with regards major international events and will update people once more information comes to light. At this stage because of the uncertainty surrounding all international travel, we believe that travel bookings for international competitions should be delayed. We are not ruling out the possibility of NZ Athletes attending international competitions; however we believe a “wait and see” approach is needed at this time. Trials for major competitions may still take place, and Malcolm Ingham will communicate more on this separately.

LOCAL CLUB EVENTS GUIDELINES

Whilst we have made some decisions on major events that are impacted by the Ministry of Health and Government guidelines, decisions around the staging of smaller events are a matter for individual clubs. As current advice to postpone large public gatherings only applies to those with more than 500 people, smaller events should be able to proceed for the time being, subject to the agreement of landowners.

We know that clubs will want to make decisions on this with the health and safety of club organisers and competitors in mind, and we recommend all clubs closely monitor the guidelines issued by the ministry of health, and follow practices in running events which comply with guidelines and minimise risk. We believe that Orienteering can play a role in providing people opportunities to exercise and do something they enjoy, and there are potentially very positive benefits for people participating in this and continuing to do the sport they enjoy, especially at this time.

The following guidelines have been developed with smaller events in mind, and which may help clubs understand how they can continue to run events under the current restrictions. Of course, these guidelines are based on the current situation and may be reviewed if and when things change:

Guidelines on Attendance to Events

Clubs need to ensure people are advised of the following restrictions on who may attend any event. This should ideally be communicated prior to any event (e.g. website, marketing or promotion), as well as at each event. People should NOT attend any orienteering event:

  • If they are unwell with a cough or fever or other respiratory symptoms.
  • If they have been in close contact with a suspected or confirmed case of COVID-19 until they have completed the 14-day quarantine period, even if they are completely symptom free.
  • If they have returned from any overseas country until they have completed the self-quarantine period for 14 days, even if they are symptom free
  • If they are undergoing COVID-19 testing, until they have received negative results and are symptom free
  • If they have been advised to stay at home by a health professional.

We also advise competitors who fit within the higher at risk groups such as elderly or immunocompromised individuals to take particular care and/or make decisions on attendance with due consideration to the risks associated with COVID-19.

Risk Management During Event

Event organisers should look at opportunities to reduce the risk to orienteers, officials and volunteers through taking sensible precautions and implement practices which reduce the chance of infection and which support social distancing. These include:

  • Not providing water on course or at start or finish for competitors. Competitors should bring their own water.
  • Asking competitors to bring their own hand sanitisers.
  • Providing hand washing or sanitising facilities at key locations including registration, toilet, finish areas.
  • Not using contact screen devices (e.g. iPads) devices OR ensuring hand sanitiser is used before and after using screens.
  • Asking all that attend to follow good hygiene practices.
  • Providing refunds to those that withdraw for health reasons.
  • Checking first aid kits have thermometers.
  • Collect contact information from each competitor so that people can be contacted in the event of someone being infected coming into contact with others.
  • Reduce the opportunity for people to congregate including having no results areas (make available online), and no presentations at events.
  • Maps should be kept by competitors following finish at all events.
  • Providing some protective equipment, disinfectant and briefing to event volunteers, and ensure hard surfaces such as tables etc are regularly wiped clean.
  • Where possible encourage people to enter and pay online, rather than manually handle cash. This could be in the form of giving entrants banking information to allow them to pay online before or after the event.
  • Arranging starts and finishes to allow 1m distance between people.

As you can appreciate the situation is changing rapidly and we will keep you informed of any further developments or changes. It is a very challenging time for the sport in New Zealand, as it is for society generally. However we know that orienteering can play a role in giving people enjoyable experiences which can be invaluable at this time, and of course we should also look forward to the time when more normal conditions return in due course and our competition calendar can once again get well underway.

Christo Peters                                                                         Peter Swanson
General Manager                                                                   Chairman

Update: 20 March 2020 – The guidelines in this news item have been superseded by Coronavirus (COVID-19) Revised Club Guidelines – March 20, 2020

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