u3a - Scotland Activities Advice

1. Document Control

2. Introduction

2.1. Purpose

The Third Age Trust has put together its guidance on coronavirus as related to the movement. We continue to follow the government and NHS advice and will keep you updated with regular mailings when the advice changes.

2.2. Scope

Relevant to all u3as in Scotland

2.3. Related documentation

3. Scotland Covid Guidance and FAQs

In November the Scottish government introduced five graded levels of restrictions on activities or setting. Each level contained a package of restrictions to suppress the virus levels and keep the R Level below 1.

The strategic aim of the Scottish Government is to; suppress the virus to the lowest possible level and keep it there, while they strive to return to normal life for as many people as possible.

As of Monday 9th August all of Scotland will move beyond the protective levels system. This means all  legal requirements for physical distancing and limits on gatherings will be removed and all venues across Scotland are able to re-open.

In line with the cautious approach the Scottish Government have taken throughout this pandemic a number of mitigation measures will remain in place.

A summary of what this means is in the table below.

Coronavirus (COVID-19) update: First Minister's statement – 3 August 2021 - gov.scot (www.gov.scot) 



How many people outdoors

Meeting indoors


Permitted Activities

From Monday 9th August

Relevant protections and guidance that will remain in place from this date.

All legal requirements for physical distancing and limits on numbers able to gather will be removed.

1. Get Vaccinated

2. Take regular lateral Flow tests, twice weekly but over the festive season if you are visiting people, going into their homes for drinks and dinner or group meetings you are advised to take a lateral flow test before.

3. Face coverings are mandatory in most indoor public spaces and indoor communal areas. Many venues are requiring face covering be worn until people are seated. Requirements may vary in different venues so it is best to check in advance.

4. There will be an ongoing requirement for indoor hospitality and similar venues to collect the contact details of customers to assist Test & Protect to continue to contact-trace positive cases

5. Rigorous hygiene, including regular hand washing, good ventilation will be important and although physical distancing is not required by law, the public are still advised especially indoors to keep safe distanceing from other households and avoid crowded places.


3.1. What steps should I take to resume my interest group activities face to face?

Whilst the lifting of restrictions will restore a substantial degree of normaility, it is important to take the time to consider restarting interest groups and face to face meetings carefully and to review the recommendations of venues and businesses where u3as meet and conduct risk assessments on the activities group leaders are proposing to resume.

To summarise the u3a procedure for resuming an activity or interest group is as follows:-

  • Inform your committee of your plans and preparations for resuming. 
  • Where appropriate, download and follow a relevant Risk Assessment from a National Governing Body for your sporting activity (see links below) or use an appropriate u3a risk assessment template for your activity.
  • Inform your members of what to expect and how to prepare for returning including the necessity to continue to wear face masks for indoor activities and meetings.
  • Remind members to self isolate and get a test if they or anyone in their household has symptoms.
  • Collect members contact details for Test & Protect purposes retaining this for 21 days after meeting.

3.2. What do we do if a member is not having the vaccine for health or personal reasons?

At present, there is no mandate from the Government that people must have the vaccine therefore the Trust will not be issuing any requirements that members must have the vaccine or that they can’t take part in activities without having had their vaccines although the Scottish Government is now recommending that people take regular Lateral Flow tests which would be strongly recommended for people who have not been able to take the Vaccines. We will continue to watch the government guidance on this matter. (see below for further guidance on this - 4. Advice on participating in u3a activities and Covid-19 tests)  

3.3. When can we restart our walking groups

 Organised walking groups can continue without restrictions on numbers.

3.4. Where can I get information about return to play from National Governing Bodies of sports organisations

A:- This link will take you to a list of Scottish Sports Associations and Governing Bodies: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sport_in_Scotland

3.5. When can u3a interest groups resume face to face meetings indoors?

You can now resume interest group meetings and activities indoors with no restrictions on numbers. When completing the risk assessment for the group activity, group leaders may decide it is appropriate for members to wear face coverings when entering and moving around indoors or in a private home, and that they may be removed when seated. Social distancing of one meter is still advisable. Please follow the steps for resuming u3a activities outlined in 3.1 above. 

4. Advice on participating in u3a activities and Covid-19 tests

4.1  Advice on participation in u3a activities and Covid-19 tests.

Whilst many u3as are beginning to resume face to face activity within the guidelines of their nation, some members of u3as remain concerned about the pandemic while venues used by u3as have now introduced additional requirements for usage. The Trust has taken advice on what u3as may do.

The starting point for all advice to u3as is that at all times you must follow the advice given in your nation. In addition you must ensure that a risk assessment is undertaken before commencing any u3a group activity and you should share this with your committee. Additionally, all members should be encouraged to undertake their personal risk assessments to inform their decision of whether to participate. Note the personal risk assessment is for your own benefit and does not need to be shared with anyone else.

There are some queries regarding additional measures that go beyond the relevant government advice. These are laid out below. Each u3a must make its own decision whether it wishes to require any additional measures or use a facility that requires additional measures over and above the relevant government advice. If a u3a decides to impose additional measures the committee should note the measures in a committee meeting, giving a full explanation for them, and detailing how they relate to the risk assessment that has resulted in imposing them.

4.2 Can a venue impose a requirement that all participants using the venue have a clear Covid test before using the facilities?

Yes the venue can undertake a health and safety risk assessment and introduce measures that they feel will reduce the risk of transmission of Covid and include this as a requirement.

4.3 Can a u3a lawfully run the event without contravening our constitutions or any equality legislation in a venue that imposes such restrictions?"

Yes it is possible to use that venue. The reason is that the policy of requiring participants to provide a clear Covid test within 48 hours of attending the event is unlikely to constitute indirect discrimination or disability discrimination. The owner/operator is entitled to put in place reasonably practicable controls and measures to minimise the risk of transmission of coronavirus, even if these are more onerous than the requirements specified by HM Government or the Health and Safety Executive, so long as they amount to proportionate means of achieving a legitimate aim, the aim in this case being to protect against Covid-19.

 The policy is a general one, rather than targeted, and most, if not all, delegates should be capable of taking a test. Whilst the policy is clearly a robust control measure, it is unlikely to be seen as disproportionate given the significant risks posed by coronavirus or discriminatory and therefore unlawful. The position would be different if the owner/operator of the venue only permitted participants who had been vaccinated. This would not comply with equality of access.

The answer is yes given that u3as are not authorised to process or store personal sensitive data. The trustee / u3a committee member who is arranging the event or use of the space should speak to the venue owner/operator to understand the procedures in place to be able to advise participants what they have to do.

4.4 If a u3a required covid clear testing proof prior to getting on a coach, or attending an interest group in a home or in hall, (in other words the request was from one of  our charities rather than the venue or the coach provider) would the u3a charity be entitled to impose this restrictions under the same H&S and equality legislation?

Yes a u3a could do this.

4.5 If they are entitled would they be allowed to show evidence of a clear test to the group leader (eg like showing a passport at customs control)  on the basis it would only be shown and not collected or stored on any data base?

Yes a u3a could do this.

4.6 Can a u3a impose a requirement that all participants attending an interest group MUST have either a clear Covid test OR proof of both vaccinations before participating?

The u3a must in any event follow all government guidance on covid such as social distancing.

And they must follow the normal risk assessments when considering the health and safety of an event.

However if they decide, in addition,  to introduce a rule that required each u3a member to show on entry to an activity that they had either  proof of vaccination or a clear covid test on the basis they wished to minimise the possibility of transmission infection in this age group mainly 70 plus then this is advised to be acceptable under equality legislation as long as the rule applies to all members within the interest group or activity.

4.7 Can it also apply to outdoor activity?

A u3a must still go through the same process, follow the relevant government guidance and undertake a risk assessment.

If under the outdoor activity risk assessment they still feel this is important to minimise the risk transmission and have noted that this is a risk in the operation of that interest group, then they may adopt the same approach. This would require a rule that required each u3a member to show on entry to an activity that they had either  proof of vaccination or a clear covid test on the basis they wished to minimise the possibility of transmission infection in this age group mainly 70 plus This is advised to be acceptable under equality legislation as long as the rule applies to all members.