We know that people are excited to get back together with friends at club and council meetings, spend time on the water, and enjoy social events, but we need to be cautious.
The world has changed dramatically since March 16th when Fly Fishers International issued guidance on COVID-19 to members, clubs, and councils on official FFI meetings, events, and workshops. At the time, there was tremendous uncertainty about the trajectory of the pandemic, only a small handful of states had issued restrictions on activities, and the Center For Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) had just announced blanket guidance on a national level. FFI leadership felt it was the most responsible action to postpone or cancel official FFI events until further notice. We have learned a lot since then.
During the intervening time, states have taken varying approaches to dealing with the pandemic, the outcomes of these distinctive measures have had differing effects, and there has been extreme variability on the impact to communities around the county and the world. CDC guidance has evolved to the point where it is now challenging to view blanket guidance as applicable to all states and communities around the country. It would not be reasonable to provide the same restrictions for rural Montana as metropolitan New York.
So where do we go from here? We know that people are excited to get back together with friends at club and council meetings, spend time on the water, and enjoy social events, but we need to be cautious. FFI is now providing updated guidance that reflects the variability of circumstances based on geography, considers human health, and allows FFI members to find ways to safely engage within their communities.
- FFI clubs and councils must defer to health experts, following official, location-specific state and local regulations provided by respective health departments. This may include recommendations regarding acceptability and size of gatherings, travel restrictions, use of personal protective equipment, social distancing guidelines, and other precautions.
- It is further recommended that all FFI club and council event organizers wait at least 15 days from the announcement of relaxed restrictions to assess impacts before moving forward with activities. This allows time to assess whether these new restrictions adversely affect the COVID-19 case rate, and reduces the likelihood of planning an event only to cancel it due to adverse outcome.
- FFI will continue with the current policy to cancel or postpone all international and centrally sponsored events through July 31 (International Expo, exam, and exam preparation events). Such events already scheduled after July 31st can be evaluated on a case by case basis, again deferring to local health and safety recommendations.
Here are some additional safety recommendations regarding local fly fishing, casting, tying or administrative events:
- Please remember that all face to face gatherings carry risk, regardless of size, and assess that risk against the importance of the event. Airline travel to and from events may pose risk for many travelers and as well those in the destination community. Gatherings that can be accomplished by telephone and videoconferencing remain preferred.
- Please request that potential participants exclude themselves if they have or may have been exposed to Covid 19 within 2 weeks prior to the event, have a pending Covid 19 test, or have symptoms such as fever or cough.
- Practice social distancing of at least 6 feet apart from one another and wear facial coverings, even outside. Facial coverings really do reduce the spread of infectious respiratory droplets transmitted by speech (especially loud speech), cough and sneezing.
- Frequent hand washing, use of hand sanitizers, and disinfectant wipes are an important part of reducing infection.
- Equipment, such as fly rods, fly tying materials, etc. should not be shared. If gear is shared for some unavoidable reason, it and the user’s hands should be disinfected after use with disinfectant wipes or 70% alcohol solution.
- Participants at gatherings should bring their own snacks, food, and water. If a meal must be served, individual packaging (“box lunch”) is far safer than a buffet or “grab and go” scenario.