Remembrance Sunday holds great importance for the council and our residents. In previous years, councillors from across Buckinghamshire have played an active part in honouring all those who fell in defence of our country in past wars and other military conflicts.
However, with COVID and the increasing number of positive cases within the county, things this year will have to be very different.
Cabinet Member for Communities and Public Health, Cllr Gareth Williams, said: ‘In line with advice from the Government and the Royal British Legion, we are all going to have to honour the service and sacrifice of our Armed Forces and veterans in our own private ways this year. Just as we cheered for the NHS earlier in the year, my kids intend to celebrate Remembrance Sunday with artwork and our own ceremony in our back garden this year.
The following advice has been issued by the government:
Who can organise a Remembrance Sunday event?
Local authorities in England can organise outdoor Remembrance Sunday events at a public war memorial or cenotaph, if you complete a COVID-19 risk assessment and take all reasonable measures to limit the risk of transmission of the virus. You must also take into account the national guidance on outdoor events, including all cleaning and hygiene precautions.
Where necessary, you should engage with neighbouring businesses, transport operators and local transport authorities to assess any risks to the local area of increased visitors from other locations and apply additional mitigations if needed.
What can a Remembrance Sunday event involve?
The Remembrance Sunday event at the National Cenotaph will be adjusted this year to ensure the event is as safe as possible. Local events should be adapted to reflect the same principles. They should:
- short and focussed on wreath laying, with a reduced march past or parade only if social distancing can be maintained
- take advantage of opportunities for wreath layers to represent wider groups
- take precautionary measures as set out in the performing arts guidance for any small, military bands
- not involve communal singing
- keep numbers to a minimum, focussing attendance on those wishing to lay wreaths (more information on who can attend below)
- take reasonable steps to minimise wider public viewing, encouraging the public to observe the rule of 6 when spectating
- observe social distancing at all times
Who can attend a Remembrance Sunday event?
Event organisers should keep numbers to a minimum. For the avoidance of doubt, the following people are legally permitted to attend events to commemorate Remembrance Sunday as participants. Attendees should observe social distancing at all times.
- people attending as part of their work (such as local councillors, local faith leaders, the local MP)
- people attending in a voluntary capacity on behalf of a recognised organisation
- members of the armed forces
- veterans of the armed forces, and/or their representatives or carers
Members of the public are legally permitted to stop and watch the event as spectators, but must observe the rule of 6 and social distancing rules. Event organisers should take reasonable steps to ensure the public attend alone, or do not mix in groups larger than 6 when in an outdoor public space (unless they are from one household/support bubble).
The guidance on shielding and protecting the most seriously clinically vulnerable has recently changed, please ensure you take this into account when planning events.
Test and Trace
Event organisers must take reasonable steps to record the contact details of those attending (including those present in a working capacity, and members of the public who stop to spectate).
Event organisers must keep a temporary record of attendees for 21 days, in a way that is manageable, and assist NHS Test and Trace with requests for that data if needed. This could help contain clusters or outbreaks. Further detail can be found in the current Test and Trace guidance.
Those responsible for organising events, and businesses working on an event site, must also keep records of staff working patterns for a period of 21 days.
Many organisations already have systems for recording their attendees. You can find details of how to maintain records.
It should be noted that those found not to be compliant with these regulations may be subject to financial penalties.
Please note the legal requirement on recording contact details does not extend to Places of Worship, however it is strongly advised that recording is put in place where possible.
Remembrance Sunday services are traditionally part of communal worship. Places of worship remain open for communal worship services for as many people as can be safely accommodated.
Whilst engaging in an activity in the place of worship or surrounding grounds, all parties should adhere to social distancing guidelines at all times, even within a group of 6. This means people should be 2 metres apart or more than 1 metre apart as well as taking extra steps to stay safe (such as wearing face coverings) to reduce the risk of transmission.
It is important that risks are managed sensibly and in line with wider Places of worship guidance, and that services conform with the COVID Local Alert Level restrictions.