September Reopening confirmed for all Men’s Sheds
Following yesterday’s announcement (31st August 2021) from the Taoiseach and the release of the government’s ‘Reframing the Challenge’ plan, which contains specific advice for men’s sheds, there has been a major breakthrough. The Irish Men’s Sheds Association (IMSA) is delighted to confirm that all our sheds will be able to return to indoor activity this month, in just under three week’s time.
We acknowledge that this news has been a long time coming for many shedders, and we as an organisation appreciate all the patience and cooperation you have extended to us over the last several months while the sheds have been shut.
Today is a time for celebration; after a year-and-a-half of incredible hardship, normality is finally returning not only to our sheds but across every sector in the country.
However, as many of you may have heard in last night’s TV address, while we’re at a point where the pandemic is now manageable, it is still not over. To that end, a number of safety measures will have to be kept in place for any shed reopening this month, in order to keep all those attending protected from Covid-19.
We’d ask all shed members to familiarise themselves with the following key measures, which come into effect on September 20th, as per the government’s official advice;
- Group activities inside the shed can take place with capacity limits of 100 people in cases where all shedders are immune (fully vaccinated or recovered from COVID-19 within previous 6 months).
- Where sheds have a mix of vaccinated and unvaccinated members, pods of up to 6 men will be permitted inside the shed.
- Multiple pods will be allowed subject to protective measures- the number of pods allowed will depend on the size of your shed and whether substantial social distance between individual pods is possible.
- There will be no limit to what activities can be carried out within the sheds- workshops, cards, and even choirs can all make a full return. However, for more high-risk activities such as singing we’d ask shedders to refer to the Health Protection Surveillance Centre website, where guidance on this will be forthcoming.
- Restrictions on all group activities outside the shed will also be removed on September 20th.
The above points are the major new changes that sheds should be most aware of in the coming weeks. However as the emphasis now switches to personal responsibility, rather than stringent legislation, to stop the spread of the Covid virus, we’d advise shedders to also take note of the following tips which have been used in sheds previously with great success and can still go a long way in keeping everyone safe.
- Have the shed thoroughly cleaned with household bleach and cleaning products BEFORE it opens its doors again. This includes any outdoor areas/outhouses etc and other facilities that shed members may use.
- Given that your shed may have been closed up for some time now it can be dangerous to immediately start using pipes and plumbing that have been switched off for a long time – this can result in illnesses such as Legionnaire’s Disease. Irish Water’s website will tell you what steps to take to make sure your water supply is safe.
- Contact your shed insurance provider If you previously notified your insurance provider to amend cover while the shed has been closed please make contact as soon as possible of your intention and date to reopen to reinstate full insurance cover.
- We’d ask all sheds to keep a sign-in book. Anyone entering the shed will need to sign their full name and give their telephone number on this book, as well as noting the date and time they arrived at, and then left, the shed. This will help contact tracers to quickly manage the situation in the event of a Covid outbreak at any shed.
- The IMSA advises, in line with public health guidance, that shedders continue to wear a face-mask or appropriate face covering while at the shed and maintain social distancing.
- Let fresh air into your shed by opening windows, doors and air vents as much as possible
- Regularly clean and disinfect objects and surfaces that other people in your shed touch. In particular, make sure that all tools are unplugged and cleaned thoroughly after each use. Keep a cleaning rota in the shed and make sure it’s updated every day
- Wash your hands properly and often with soap and water or alcohol-based hand sanitiser. Ideally this sanitiser will be stationed at the door of your shed.
- Any shed that fears they are dealing with a Covid outbreak should follow the protocol given here. The IMSA will also assist you in any way possible- contact us on 01 891 6150 or email us for specific COVID-19 support on firstname.lastname@example.org
While it seems the end is finally in sight, we are by no means in the clear yet. The government has stressed that the reopening of society depends entirely on case numbers remaining stable and vaccination rates remaining high. To do our part in making sure we continue on the right path, we’d urge all IMSA sheds to bear in mind all public health measures as they are updated here.
You can also recap on the IMSA’s previous Covid guidelines, and find our templates for cleaning checklists and rotas, here.
Finally, we wish to formally acknowledge the efforts of all our shedders which have brought us to this point. Without the endless sacrifices you each made over the past 18 months to stop the spread of this deadly virus, case numbers may have risen far more rampantly, and we would not be looking forward to such a return to normality as we are currently.
Given the exemplary way you have all reacted since Covid first came to our shores, we are confident that the future is bright for the sheds and that the men in them will continue making the right decisions in the interest of their own safety and that of their entire community. There are no doubt those of you who will feel apprehensive about this return to a busier life, but we’d urge those people to remember they are in safe hands with the fantastic shed committees we have at ground level across the country, and that the IMSA is also always here to help however we can.
Le gach dea-ghuí,
The IMSA Team.