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Running a Covid Compliant Agility Show


   Supporting agility dogs with specialist lifetime cover

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Who would be a show secretary in 2021?

Organising an agility show during a worldwide pandemic was never going to be easy. Nothing like this had ever happened before. There was always the fear that the Government might introduce another lockdown, and all the work would be undone, to say nothing of the financial layout, which might not be recoverable. We talked to an experienced show secretary about the trials and tribulations of putting on a show during Covid.

I have been asked by many people what it was like to organise an agility show in these troubled times, and the answer is very time consuming. There was so much extra work and worry and always the concern that so many shows had been cancelled for 2021 that I kept wondering what did they know that I did not?

In 2020 all the judges had been appointed, and the schedule was ready. And then along came lockdown and the show was cancelled.

Earlier this year, our Committee bravely decided to plan for a 2021 show at our usual time which came within the period of restrictions. Judges were found and the work on the schedule began again.

Then the problems started
The Kennel Club sent out a Covid risk assessment which we thought had to be followed. The list contained a great number of risks and the actions to be taken to be safe. One of these was to leave three metres between cars in day parking when every car park in the country was leaving had about one metre. When contacted the Kennel Club said that this was only advice. We were not allowed to site caravans back-to-back or to have gardens touching so the site plan had to be rearranged thus reducing the number of caravans we could accept.

We were informed that we should hold fewer classes and have more of these Combined.

We, therefore, reduced the number of classes available by one third. Covid risk assessments had to be prepared, specific to our show. The local council had to be contacted as we had to have their permission to hold the show. They were extremely helpful and sent us a copy of the lockdown rules regarding shows. The local police also had to give permission. They too were very helpful.

I worked out a start time for every class and sent that to the competitors. This was extremely well received by handlers as they knew exactly when to appear for their run. The judges were not so sure. Some said they liked it as, if one class finished early, it gave them time to check on their dogs before the next. Others did not as sometimes it meant a wait between classes, and they would rather have started the next class. Course walking in groups of 25 did not seem to cause any problems nor did the allocation of class walking times.

Before the show went live, we then had a Committee meeting to decide how best to organise the show to keep it Covid safe. There had been a couple of Covid safe shows in the spring which I had been to, and this was very helpful.

New rules
Here are some of the things we had to consider...

  • Courses could only be walked in groups of 25 or less, so handlers needed to be allocated a time to walk their courses.
     
  • To avoid handlers missing their run, class start times were also pre-arranged. This took a lot of time, but the reduced number of classes did make it easier to work out the ring plan.
     
  • Many more notices than usual had to be printed and laminated.
     
  • More equipment was purchased including things like grabbers so ring party were able to transfer dogs leads without touching them.
     
  • Ring refreshments had to be re-thought as did presentations.
     
  • Track & Trace was necessary - even for family members who had not entered a dog.
     
  • Visitors were not allowed to the venue.
     
  • Handlers had to wear masks when walking courses, using the toilets and visiting the Show Secretary's tent.
     
  • Sanitisers had to be available at toilets, water points and at the ring side etc.
     
  • All routes around the rings needed to be one way for social distancing.
     
  • There could be no judges lunching together or staff eating together as has always been the custom.
     
  • In addition, dog poo is now classed as hazardous waste and had to be incinerated.

So it went on. As soon as one problem was solved, another took its place.

Looking back
I am glad that we decided to take a chance and go ahead and happy that we did our best in a difficult situation. The show took a great deal of my time to organise -so much more than usual. I believe that the handlers appreciated this and that they had an enjoyable and successful show.

There were many thanks from handlers who were were delighted with the show, and the club was happy to have given so much pleasure to so many people as well as their dogs.

First published 30th June 2021

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