Last updated: 05/01/2020
Beginning at midnight on Monday 4 January, England was placed in a new national lockdown. This means the public are being asked to stay at home unless absolutely necessary. Visit gov.uk/coronavirus for detailed regulations and guidance.
Over the last nine months, we have provided regular guidance (not rules or instructions – only the government can issue those) to help Tree Wardens and community groups to plant and care for trees as safely as possible, while honouring all relevant government regulations.
While the current lockdown contains exemptions for volunteering, it is our feeling that these exemptions are worded to allow voluntary organisations to provide essential care to vulnerable communities, for example, delivering food to the elderly or physically disabled, rather than to allow community gatherings (which would include meetings of multiple households). It should also be noted that government guidance states that authorities may break up ‘illegal’ gatherings and can issue Fixed Penalty Notices starting at £200.
The safety and wellbeing of our volunteers is our top concern. Infection rates are currently extremely high. We are all being asked to stay at home to prevent overwhelming health services.
Therefore we would urge Tree Warden Networks and other volunteer groups NOT to organise planting events until restrictions are lifted or changed. Though national restrictions vary across Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland, the public are being told to stay home where possible across the UK. Tree planting in family groups or support bubbles locally may still be allowed as a form of exercise, subject to all social distancing being adhered to, but this is undertaken at your own risk.
Depending on when restrictions are lifted, there may still be opportunities to plant trees before the end of this planting season (around end of March). If trees have arrived and are due to be planted, they can be ‘heeled in’ carefully or stored in a cool place with damp roots, until it is possible to plant them. It remains the responsibility of event organisers to make plans which reflect the most up-to-date regional and national information.
National and regional restrictions outside England
- Mainland Scotland has been placed in a temporary lockdown (some islands will remain at Level 3)
- Wales is currently in alert level four and people are being told to stay at home and gather only with the people they live with
- On 26 December 2020, Northern Ireland put in place new restrictions for the next six weeks, with the key guidance to stay at home However, outdoor gatherings up to 15 people are permitted
If you have any questions or concerns, please do get in touch with us.
Take care and stay safe,
Team Tree Council