u3a - Covid-19 Advice for Interest Groups in Scotland - U3A-KMS-DOC-076

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 19th July all of Scotland has moved into Level 0. A summary of what this means is in the table below.

Coronavirus (COVID-19) protection levels: what you can do - gov.scot (www.gov.scot)


19th July

How many people outdoors

Meeting indoors


Permitted Activities

Level 0


The aim is to lift all remaining major restrictions on 9th August
Maximum 15 people from up to 15 households can meet to socialise outdoors in public spaces and private gardens. Maximum of 8 people from up to 4 households may socialise indoors in a public space and in a private dwelling. Unrestricted domestic travel and within the UK or wider common travel area. You can take part in any sports or exercise activity including indoor contact sport. All public buildings are open including community centres and libraries etc.
General Safety guidance/rules

Indoor public places, the physical distance requirements will drop from 2m to 1m and apply between different households. You should: a) Wear a face covering b) Avoid crowded places and stay 1m from others c) clearn hands and surfaces regularly d) Get a vaccine when you are offered one  e) self isolate and get tested if you have symptoms of Coronavirus f) Download the Protect Scotland app.


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

It is imperative that we follow the government guidance as we move through the steps of lockdown easing. Their aim is to be guided by the evidence at each step of the road map and we must follow their lead and recommendations at all times, remaining vigilant and flexible to their latest guidance whilst planning for the return journey for the members in our various interest groups.

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. In Scotland you are required to have a designated Covid Officer to oversee and provide guidance on resumption of sports as previously.
  • 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.
  • Ask members to complete a personal assessment (pre-attendance) before attending.
  • Please ensure you are following the most current government guidance on social distancing, and maintaining Covid-secure requirements at all times. For instance you may be required to continue to keep a register of participants for 21 days after the activity for Track and Trace beyond the roadmap. after the activity for Track and Trace beyond the roadmap.

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. We will continue to watch the government guidance on this matter.

3.3. When can we restart our walking groups

 The Scottish Government roadmap for lifting lockdown will now permit organised walking groups to take part in larger numbers without restrictions on numbers however you will still need to ensure covid secure protocols are followed by participants so it is advisable to keep the numbers to no more than 30 at this time.

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 we resume playing golf?

Golf courses with a designated Covid Officer can permit organised golf for members who live within the local authority area. Play can take place in four-balls with no restrictions on the number of households permitted. https://scottishgolf.org/covid-19-update-12-march/

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

At present, the maximum numbers that can meet indoors is 8 people from 4 households at level 0. These are still limited numbers however it is possible to organise multiple small hybrid groups (where a few people are meeting face to face and join others either individuals or other small groups via a video conference platform like Zoom) alternatively an interest group might be split into small subgroups who meet within the current face to face restrictions in anticipation of the whole group coming together hopefully later in August.


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.

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.