Today – 9th September 2020 – saw new guidance in England about the number of people that can meet together.
There has been a lot of speculation on Yoga social media that this means class numbers are capped. Our analysis is they are not, and I’ll attempt to explain why below. However it has been a busy day, this is a fast moving area, and things may change in a few days if more detailed Government guidance comes out, So my thoughts are very much E&OE.
What was Announced Today?
In summary, the Government said “From Monday 14 September, you must not meet with people from other households socially in groups of more than 6. This will apply indoors and outdoors, including in private homes. This change will simplify and clarify the rules on social gatherings, so they are easier to understand and easier for the police to enforce. There will be a limited number of exemptions. COVID-19 Secure venues, such as places of worship, restaurants and hospitality venues, can still host larger numbers in total but groups of up to 6 must not mix or form larger groups. This rule will not apply to individual households or support bubbles of more than 6 who will still be able to gather together. Education and work settings are unaffected, and organised team sports will still be able to proceed, as will weddings and funerals up to 30. From Monday, this limit will be enforceable in law.” Coronavirus (COVID-19): What has changed – 9 September
This is the news release on Government website. Boris Johnson’s speech was more or less the same verbatim, although he did add gyms into the specific list of examples – but that list is just that, examples of Covid secure businesses and if you read the wording all Covid secure venues, ergo Covid secure businesses – the differentiation between “venue” and “business” isn’t significant – are exempt from the 6 person limit.
Groups of Six
So what exactly is the restriction? What is allowed and not allowed? And all importantly, how many can we have in our classes?
Many posters on social media have speculated that the rules mean you can only have six in a class, as the class is a group and groups are restricted to six. I can see how people get to that conclusion, but I believe it to be wrong.
Lets break it down:
- Its abundantly clear you can have more than six people in your venue. The quote above says so, the Prime Minister said so in his briefing, specifically mentioning gyms in his examples. Its not a herculean leap from a gym to a yoga venue.
- The rules themselves are about social interaction and this is the key. They are to stop groups of more than six socialising. So, pubs can host more than six people, but six is the maximum for one table or booth. Gyms’s can have more than six people in them, but groups mixing together must not be more than six.
- Within a yoga class the group doesn’t socialise together. They do yoga; whilst there may be a secondary social motivation for individuals to go to yoga or for that matter the gym, (“it gets me out of the house”), this doesn’t make it a social activity.
- Places of Worship are exempt from the 6 person rule, and there seems little difference in practical terms between a group service of worship and a group yoga class.
Taken in the round there is no evidence that the intention is to restrict classes – yoga or otherwise – to six people. The intention is to stop groups of more than six socialising together.
I think this stands regardless of whether the class is indoors or out, or in a gym, studio, rented hall, etc.
It would seem on the face of it little has changed for Yoga classes.
There is no suggestion, either in the announcements from PM and Government, or from analysis, that there is an intention to restrict classes to six people.
However, it is clear that the Government is setting a tone of taking Coronavirus more seriously. We do need to think about our plans for keeping students safe, and we do need to reassure students.about the safety of attending yoga classes. We also need to think about our own safety and security – for some that will mean staying online, and this decision should be respected; for those who return to in person classes we need to make sure our own safety isn’t compromised for students sakes.