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confused Summer camps seek clarity on 'vague' indoor activity ban

Confusion over whether camps are covered by insurance due to HSE guidance

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Alison Vard Miller of Miss Ali Stage School

Alison Vard Miller of Miss Ali Stage School

Alison Vard Miller of Miss Ali Stage School

SUMMER camp directors say they are confused about vague official guidelines relating to indoor activity, which leave too much room for interpretation.

Official guidance on the Government's website states that indoor activities, "such as organised events… group training, exercise and dance will not yet proceed, pending the implementation of a system to verify vaccination or immunity".

When the Herald asked for clarification in relation to the summer camp sector, a government spokesperson referred to an answer to a Parliamentary Question on June 30, which stated: "Summer camps may proceed; however, camp organisers must ensure adherence to the public health measures in place at the time of the summer camp.

"The public health measures in place will, for example, guide the numbers permitted in pods for both indoor and outdoor activities and whether indoor catering is permitted."

However, summer camp owner Ross, who prefers to keep the name of his summer camp anonymous, received correspondence from the Department of Tourism, Culture, Arts, Gaeltacht, Sport and Media last Friday stating that indoor summer camps are currently prohibited under public health measures.

Correspondence from the department seen by the Herald reads: "Under the current guidelines, indoor events are not permitted.

"Therefore, until there is a formal change to the guidelines, indoor summer camps are not permitted."

Ross had invested more than €5,000 in anticipation of his summer camps starting back this week, but has now cancelled due to fears that he would not be covered by insurance.

"Our insurance company said look, if you run your camps and the Government has stated that you shouldn't be running your camps, then your cover will be void," the camp organiser said.

"I'm down €5,000, which doesn't seem a lot when you're busy, but nowadays every euro counts.

"We spent two days last week trying to get clarification on this.

"When you ring the HSE, they say all the information is on the website, but it's not.

"It's very vague, and it's up to you to interpret it."

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Christine Campbell is the managing director of Anyone 4 Science summer camps, which are going ahead outdoors where possible with socially-distanced indoor activity.

Numbers at the camps are reduced and children are limited to pods of six.

She has also gone to great lengths to seek clarity on government guidance.

"I have contacted the various venues that our camps are running in," she said.

"Bord Fáilte run one of our venues, and have very clear instructions to anybody operating under their guidelines."

"Other venues have been in touch with their local TDs and there is supposed to be a question being raised in the Dáil on our behalf. That's what we're doing to try to get clarity on it."

"We're in touch with insurers and they're saying that as long as we're in line with HSE guidelines we're insured, so we do our best to make sure we are within those guidelines. It's a tricky situation."

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