In last week’s update we confirmed that all parkrun events across the world will remain closed until at least this calendar month. In some parkrun countries that message was entirely expected, as they are still relatively early in their efforts to overcome the challenge presented to them by COVID-19. However, some other parkrun countries are experiencing significant relaxation of restrictions, and are beginning to approach something resembling normal life.
To reiterate previous updates, all decisions to reopen parkrun events in any specific part of the world will be taken by parkrun Global (the UK-based charity ultimately responsible for every parkrun event) in collaboration with dedicated parkrun staff or volunteers in each country. Importantly, we continue to review each parkrun country’s unique situation and are committed to reopening their events as soon as appropriate.
Further, whilst we are not at this stage ruling out changes to operations required at event level, our current position is that we will not open parkrun events in any country until we can do so across that entire country, safely and without compromising any public health guidelines in that country. We are also, at this stage, not looking to reopen events until we can do so in a way that is the same as or similar to how they operated before lockdown.
We understand the good intentions behind the many suggestions being presented around changes to how parkrun events could operate. We’ve seen ideas such as wave starts, no finish tokens, limited attendance, and enforced physical distancing between participants. However, the majority of these interventions are likely to add levels of complexity to our operating model that at best make it incredibly difficult for volunteers to deliver events, and in some cases make it impossible.
Importantly, much of our success over the last fifteen years has been due to our relentless focus on removing barriers to event delivery (as well as to event participation), and now more than ever we must keep that principle at the forefront of our minds.
We know that many people will read this update and wonder how parkrun will ever be able to return without significant changes to how it operates. However, in almost every parkrun country, the impact of COVID-19 is diminishing daily, public health guidelines are changing accordingly, and restrictions are being gradually relaxed.
Many governments have committed to a return of all sporting activities, including contact sports and those where physical distancing is not possible. Schools are returning, people are going back to work, and communities are re-engaging. All of these positive steps are steps closer to parkrun events being welcomed back into the communities they exist within, and each one provides a learning opportunity. As a result, we remain confident that, in time, all parkrun events will return.
Even more important to our success has been a focus on increased human interaction, and the utilisation of technology to enhance opportunities for people to be together, to socialise, and to share areas of open space. Again, now more than ever, it is vital that we retain our commitment to bringing people together not moving them apart.
Whilst all parkrun events remain closed this weekly update will contain all relevant information relating to the COVID-19 situation and parkrun. As we take decisions to reopen parkrun countries, relevant announcements will be made here first and from that point communications relating to the reopening of those countries will be communicated via country-specific communications channels.
Thank you for your continued support, patience, and understanding.
We are getting through this, together.
Chief Operating Officer
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