The National Allotment Society - National Society of Allotment and Leisure Gardeners Ltd

Covid 19 Emergency Measures

Reviewed 17 May 2021

What the NAS is doing to help members during the National Lockdown

The National Allotment Society is working to support plot-holders and associations so that they can continue to work their plots and manage sites in a safe and secure manner during the pandemic. We are all living through a crisis, the likes of which the country has not experienced since war time. The community spirit that exists on allotment sites is now vitally important. Please remember to look out for one another during these very difficult times. This is a constantly changing situation and we will review this page on a regular basis.

Please remember to carry on using social distancing and taking hygiene precautions when visiting the site and touching communal surfaces. Plot-holders over 70 years of age, regardless of general health are particularly vulnerable. It may feel safe on an allotment site but there are still risks.

If you break the rules The police can take action against you; this includes breaking up illegal gatherings and issuing fines (fixed penalty notices). You can be given a Fixed Penalty Notice of £200 for the first offence, doubling for further offences up to a maximum of £6,400. If you hold, or are involved in holding, an illegal gathering of over 30 people, the police can issue fines of £10,000.

HANDS: FACE: SPACE: FRESH AIR

Plot-holders in Wales must follow Wales Assembly coronavirus restrictions and those in Scotland the guidance from the Scottish Government.

NAS Q & A  On Allotments and Social Distancing

Protect yourself and your family

Covid -19 - The virus that causes COVID 19 is mainly transmitted through droplets generated when an infected person coughs, sneezes or speaks.  Some droplets are too heavy to hang in the air and they quickly fall and contaminate floors and surfaces. Other smaller airborne particles can remain in the air for some time. You can be infected by breathing in the virus if you are within close proximity of a person who has Covid-19- hence the 2m social distancing requirement, or by touching a contaminated surface and then touching your eyes, nose or mouth before washing your hands.

Can I still work my allotment during the Covid19 lockdown?

Yes, allotments are a great way of both getting exercise and obtaining food during this crisis.

Can I visit the allotment with my family and friends?

Please follow your local council or site rules about numbers of people allowed on to the site/your plot other than your household/support bubble.

Exercise caution when with anyone not in your household or support bubble and follow the guidance on how to stop the spread of coronavirus at all times.

If you do wish to bring someone to assist with work on the plot, please ensure that that this is notified either to the Secretary or Site Manager so that they can authorise and are aware of who is on site. It is essential that no un-authorised people are allowed onto the plots for the duration of this emergency. Careful consideration should be given to introducing anyone over 70, those with underlying illness or pregnant women.

Can I drive to my plot? Yes, it is permissible to travel to access local green space to exercise and allotments are allowed to remain open. In a rural area you may have to travel further to the nearest available plot or cross boundaries. If you have concerns about the distance you need to travel to your plot please contact your local police force.

How can I ensure my family’s and everyone else’s safety at the plot?

Do not attend the plot if you have coronavirus symptoms or a family member is self-isolating, this includes people who need to isolate after returning from holidays abroad.

Take a flask of hot water, soap and paper towels to the plot with you (cold water will work too).

Use hand sanitiser (should be at least 60% alcohol content) before entering the site and opening any gate locks

Wash hands for at least 20 seconds after closing the lock, dry with a paper towel

The most effective part of hand washing is the drying using preferably paper towel to remove the layer of dead skin scales - on which virus and bacteria sit. Paper towel to compost heap.

DO NOT touch your face after using anything that has been touched by other people- use an elbow to work the push taps.

Wash your hands again for 20 seconds, dry with a paper towel before opening and closing the lock to leave the site

Use hand sanitiser after closing the lock

Wash hands when you get home

Exercise caution when with anyone not in your household or support bubble

If you take your children to the plot, ensure that they stay within its confines and do not run around on communal paths and spaces.

Do not share tools

Do not wash your hands in water troughs

I am self-isolating  and cannot go to the allotment and worried about losing my plot, what should I do?

Please make sure that you inform your Council Allotment Officer or Allotment Association that you are unable to visit the site, preferably in writing, so that they can make allowances for your situation.

What changes should Allotment Associations make to site management?

Pin up information about social distancing and hygiene on a notice board or the gate, there is a QR code at the bottom of this page that links to our updating page.

Risk - undertake risk assessments and take appropriate action to reduce hazards around any areas of the site where people may gather or multiple people touch surfaces e.g. communal water troughs, equipment, taps, and gate locks. Click Here for government advice around cleaning in non-healthcare settings. 

Communal facilities. If communal rooms are opened, no more than 6 people or 2 households can gather inside and people should still exercise caution and consider the guidance on risks associated with COVID-19 and actions you can take

Toilets. If associations decide to open toilets a full risk assessment must be carried out and a cleaning regime used that reduces risk of transmission for users and volunteers.

Communal Water Points - many sites will have communal taps and water troughs, the use of which could potentially spread the disease. The water supply itself is chlorinated   https://www.wessexwater.co.uk/coronavirus.

Associations may want to consider a system whereby volunteers fill up plot-holder’s water butts from the taps. The volunteers would wear single use gloves (click here for de-gloving advice) and follow good practice around social distancing and hygiene.

The NAS does have further detailed information on risk assessments and the duty of care for Self-Managed Associations please email natsoc@nsalg.org.uk  if this is required.

Communal activities, from the 17 May it is permitted for up to 30 people to gather together outdoors. However, those not in the same household should still exercise caution and consider the guidance on risks associated with COVID-19 and actions you can take

Indoor AGMs should be postponed or held virtually. An outdoor meeting of up to 30 people could take place.

AGMs are right at the heart of member democratic control in co-ops and community businesses. We also know that because of COVID-19 and social distancing, our members have faced a number of dilemmas regarding how and when to hold their AGMs.

The Government has confirmed that Co-operative and Community Benefit Societies, in Great Britain and Northern Ireland, are covered by legislation that provides businesses with greater flexibility in how and when they hold their Annual General Meetings (AGMs), or any other General Meetings (GMs) until 30 April 2021.

 This legislation does provide Societies with legal certainty and comfort if they need to  breach their rules and usual good co-operative practice, by

  • Delaying their AGM’s
  • Holding AGM’s and General Meetings with online participation
  • Holding AGM and GM’s that restrict in-person participation

Unincorporated Associations (not limited companies) Association Committees cannot be expected to break the law and should wait to hold to hold indoor, physical AGM’ s until further Covid restrictions are lifted. However, they could hold an outdoor AGM of up to 30 people. Committees must follow the requirements of their Constitutions and it is important that you communicate with your members if it is not possible to hold a virtual AGM; informing members that the AGM will be arranged as soon possible once restrictions are lifted,  allowing the correct notice periods to be observed.

Contact natsoc@nsalg.org.uk for further information and support.

Shops - it is now compulsory to wear a mask when inside a shop.  The Society recommends that associations follow the conditions within the Horticultural Trades Association guidance for Garden Centres (CLICK HERE to view) or put an online/remote system in place.

Gate Sales - please take care to follow social distancing and hygiene guidelines. Sales are likely to be in cash - the risk of transmission from notes and coins is low but care should still be taken, the accumulated cash could be quarantined for a few days before handling.

Shared Machinery- please contact natsoc@nsalg.org.uk for detailed advice

Bonfires Please check with your Local Authority before authorising bonfires on the site. Garden bonfires contribute to air pollution, especially when green material is burnt. Air Quality can be checked at this link - CLICK HERE

Plot allocation If you start to allocate plots from the 8 March please ensure that you adhere to the regulations about meeting others, take steps to ensure good hygiene and keep social distancing.

Plot inspections - if you have commenced plot inspections please take into account the fact that plot-holders may be ill, self isolating or have been shielding.

If you are unsure as to which tenants have been shielding or ill, one option of dealing with the situation would be (from the point at which plot inspections are re-instated) to regard all tenants as if they hold new tenancies and apply the relevant criteria in your tenancy agreements. For associations using the NAS model agreement that would mean you would expect a quarter of the cultivable area of the plot to be cultivated within the next three months and the whole within one year. This would give tenants who have been obliged to shield themselves a fair opportunity to restore their plots to good condition, taking into account the degeneration in plot condition that has occurred in their absence.  In addition, it would be a good idea to insist that all material nuisances to other plot-holders resulting from non-cultivation be remedied within the same three months. This would mean, for example, the removal of grass seed heads and overhanging brambles.

Public Footpaths through allotment sites - if you have a footpath running through the site that is used by large numbers of people associations could consider taking the following steps.

Tying gates open if it is safe to do so, so that walkers do not need to touch the gate.

There is no power under the Countryside and Rights of Way Act 2000 for landowners to close or obstruct a public right of way, however associations could put up a polite notice asking walkers to respect  plot-holders by following social distancing guidelines and consider using alternative routes that do not pass through the allotment gardens.

Offering a permissive alternative route around gardens only where it is safe to do so (permission must be obtained from relevant landowners and steps must be taken to make sure the route is safe for users and livestock) provided that the original right of way is maintained. It is also necessary to check the insurance position before doing this to ensure that appropriate cover is in place.

Please see further advice from Natural England - Using Green Spaces and also guidance on the Countryside Code.  NAS recommend that this issue is discussed further with the landowner, prior to any action been taken.

Click on the link to read about self isolating

Click on the link to read about social distancing

Click on the link to read some useful advice about hygiene Germ Defence

Government advice about the Coronavirus is updated on a regular basis at these links.

https://www.gov.uk/guidance/coronavirus-covid-19-information-for-the-public

Wales Assembly coronavirus restrictions

For NHS information and advice CLICK HERE

If you are making a poster for the allotment gate, here is a QR code that will link direct to our latest advice.