Allow trail running races as an exception to Cap. 599G
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Allow trail running races as an exception to Cap. 599G Prevention and Control of Disease (Prohibition on Group Gathering) Regulation
Secretary for Home Affairs, Mr Caspar Tsui
Secretary for Food and Health, Professor Sophia Chan
Since February 2020 trail running race events have generally not been given approval due to the Covid-19 pandemic, specifically under Cap. 599G Prevention and Control of Disease (Prohibition on Group Gathering) Regulation.
We believe that allowing trail running races with appropriate health measures is beneficial to the public interest and poses an extremely low risk of Covid-19 infection.
Since March 2021 three events have been approved as exemptions, with no adverse health events or Covid-19 infections reported.
We call upon the Home Affairs Bureau and Food and Environmental Hygiene Department as well as relevant government departments to allow trail running races to be granted permits with specific health and safety conditions.
On the 22nd of June 2021 Hong Kong Chief Executive Carrie Lam listed factors for consideration of group gathering regulations including the nature of, and society’s need for, that activity.
In April 2020 Professor Ben Cowling, Head of the Division of Epidemiology and Biostatistics at Hong Kong University stated that trail races should be encouraged and facilitated because they are low risk and good for people’s health. Trail races do not involve close contact or confined spaces and participants generally arrive at the finish line spread out over hours. The health benefits of trail running include both physical, such as reduction in risk factors for heart disease, and mental health benefits.
The Chief Executive also stated that when considering group gathering regulations authorities need to consider risk factors associated with an activity, whether they are manageable, and whether the organiser is able to comply with social distancing requirements. Race organisers are able to manage risk factors by socially distancing participants at start areas and imposing health measures at checkpoints. Proposed health and safety protocols for the approval of trail race permits are outlined as follows:
· Participants to line up at least 1.5 metres apart in starting areas.
· Participants to start races in batches of no more than 100; with each batch starting at least one minute apart.
· Participants to wear face masks at the start area and, on completion of the race, in the finish area.
· Event volunteers to wear face masks at all times.
· Body temperature screening is applied for all participants and volunteers at the start area of a race.
· Hand sanitizer stations will be available at the start area and all race checkpoints.
· Food items will be provided at race checkpoints in separate portions for each runner.
· Water at checkpoints to only be dispensed by volunteers wearing face masks, participants may only hold personal hydration bottles under water dispensing containers (i.e. no physical contact).
· Organisers shall ensure the contact information and attendance record of all participants will be kept at all times and will be made available for Government Departments for the purpose of contact tracing when necessary.