In response to a number of questions we have been receiving about the return of parkrun in England, and in order to try and provide as much transparency and clarity as possible, we’ve put together the following FAQ.
We’ll be updating this list over the coming weeks.
Does every individual event have its own risk assessment?
Yes, each event already has its own bespoke risk assessment, reviewed annually, and published online. This risk assessment covers some risks and mitigations that are common to every event, but also includes any number of additional, local risks and mitigations based on the specifics of the event location.
Based on feedback from a number of landowners we have now included a COVID-19-specific section within each event’s local risk assessment.
How will parkrun manage the risks associated with COVID-19 at its events?
Working closely with Sport England, DCMS, and the Deputy Chief Medical Officer, we developed a COVID-19 operating framework and risk assessment, that ensures our events are delivered safely and within UK Government and Public Health guidelines.
Our COVID-19 Framework is publicly available, alongside our operating principles, via our Global Volunteer Hub.
Prior to events restarting, event teams are required to read this operational framework, to confirm that they have understood it, and to make all of the necessary changes and adaptations for their event to take place safely.
What changes are parkrun making in order to mitigate risks posed by COVID-19?
There are many changes applied when operating under our COVID-19 Framework, and events are required to adopt a number of mitigations and changes to minimise the risk of COVID infection at our events. These changes include things like moving the start / finish line to wider less crowded areas, dramatically reducing the amount of time participants gather at the start line, reducing the amount of shared hardware amongst volunteers by using the updated Virtual Volunteer app, and asking participants not to attend if they feel unwell or have any COVID symptoms.
Could parkrun go further?
First and foremost, parkrun is a public health initiative. Understanding this, there are some aspects of our events that create those incredible public health benefits that must not be lost.
By limiting numbers, introducing wave starts, charging for entry, insisting on pre-registration, or restricting who could participate, those most in need of community-based socially-focused physical activity would be excluded, and that would be unacceptable for a public health initiative. We would be failing as a health and wellbeing charity.
This principle is commonplace: every other aspect of society that has returned (from other grassroots sports, to hospitality, to retail and so on) has had to ask the same question: what can we change to reduce risk, whilst at the same time protecting what it is we do?
For example, grassroots football has been able to come back with 11 players on each side, defensive walls and throw-ins.
Similarly, through our COVID-19 Framework, we have introduced a range of adaptations and mitigations that Sport England, DCMS, the Chief Medical Officer’s Office and hundreds of local and national authorities around the world have accepted as reasonable, sensible and appropriate to enable parkrun events to take place safely.
How well is the COVID-19 Framework working in events already open?
Our COVID-19 Framework has already supported the return of 800+ weekly events in seven countries (Australia, New Zealand, Japan, Russia, UK, USA and South Africa). In total over 250,000 different people have participated more than 1.5 million times with no reported cases of COVID-19 transmission.
The development of our COVID-19 Framework was guided and underpinned by a review of evidence that we commissioned from Canterbury Christ Church University, and is therefore grounded in scientific knowledge. That full report and an executive summary are published on our website.
To further support the effectiveness of our COVID-19 Framework we commissioned an independent specialist, Professor Clive Beggs, from Queen Mary University of London, to model infection risk at parkrun events operating under the Framework itself. Professor Beggs’ conclusion was that, even at March levels of virus prevalence and vaccine roll-out, parkrun events in England presented minimal risk of COVID-19 transmission. Since then virus prevalence has fallen significantly, and many more millions of vaccine doses have been administered.
Is parkrun required to follow the guidance of athletic national governing bodies (NGBs)?
As a UK-based charity, with a global reach, parkrun is not affiliated to any national governing body. We have our own global public liability insurance, and are not required to follow NGB guidance. Our published COVID-19 Framework was developed in conjunction with Sport England, the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport and the Chief Medical Officer’s Office. Our framework has been endorsed and supported by the Government, as confirmed in this letter from Nigel Huddleston MP, Minister for Sport.
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