It is perfectly reasonable to have concerns about attending a weekend retreat and want to know more about safety procedures. We’ve had a number of people ask questions. As a result, we’ve done our due diligence regarding the hotels as well as evolved our safety procedures for the classroom.

We’d like to share with you what we have learned and what we are doing differently.

First and foremost, the hotels we are using are fully operational under current government guidelines and fully versed in recommended safety procedures. In fact, some of the hotels, e.g. The Hogs Back, operated throughout the pandemic for NHS and essential services staff, so they are well practiced with Government guidelines.

We are confident that all of the hotels that are used for weekend retreats are safe and operating at a much higher standard than community halls, pubs, shops and virtually all other spaces that are now welcoming people back in. This is of fundamental importance.

The second key point to make is that we are requiring face masks in the classroom. Face masks are a key aspect to the Government safety procedures. And it just makes good sense to wear a face mask at all times to ensure your safety and the safety of others.

The easiest way to communicate more detailed information with you is to share questions and answers to date.

How many people will there be on the course and in the room at any one time including tutors?

With the upcoming Bargello weekend retreat in October, for example, we have 14 students (which includes two non-residential), Sue Thornborough (tutor), and 2 people from Or, a total of 17.

It is against the law to have a gathering of 30 or more. Traditionally, numbers at a limited to under 30 so that everyone has direct access to the tutor. We don’t anticipate any issue related to numbers.

Will there be timed entry so as to observe social distance?

We will use separate suites within each hotel for our retreat. And these suites are designed to hold a large number of delegates – – from 60 delegates (The Langstone) up to 150 delegates (The Hogs Back). That will give you an idea of the space we are working with.
As our total numbers are relatively small, e.g. a total of 17 for the Bargello weekend, there will be plenty of space. So, we will not have timed entry. We will ensure that everyone observes social distancing when entering and leaving the room.

In the course room, what measures will there be for each delegate to be able to operate safely and individually in accordance with Government guidelines?

As noted above, there will be a lot of extra space within the rooms we are using. Each student will have their own 4′ or 6′ worktable set up in a classroom style (i.e. all facing forward), and there will be ample space between tables to operate safely and in accordance with Government guidelines.

Are we to wear masks at all times in the room? If we do, will anyone who declines be excluded from the sewing room?

Yes, everyone is to wear a face mask or face covering at all times in the room. It is also worth noting that the hotels require that masks are worn while walking through the hotel and in their meeting spaces.

We understand that plastic visors are not safe enough when individuals are within a meter of each other. So, visors will not be accepted as an alternative to a mask or face covering for delegates. will supply extra face masks in the event that someone misplaces their mask, breaks their mask or forgets to bring a mask. If someone declines to wear a mask, then they will be asked to leave our space.

And just to be extra clear, we use the definition supplied by on their website: “In the context of the coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak, a face covering is something which safely covers the nose and mouth. You can buy reusable or single-use face coverings. You may also use a scarf, bandana, religious garment or hand-made cloth covering but these must securely fit round the side of the face.”

Are there any exceptions to the face mask rule?

We understand that there are people with certain medical conditions (e.g. severe asthma) where it is recommended that they do not wear a mask. If a delegate produces a doctor’s note re: such a medical condition, then they will not need to wear a mask.

Also, tutor’s may elect to wear a visor when teaching from the front of the room where the distance from the teaching space to the front row of delegates is over 2 meters. This is so that everyone can see/hear the tutor. When the tutors moves around the room to review projects/speak with delegates, then the tutor is required to wear a face mask.

Clearly, you cannot wear a face mask while eating and drinking. So, all meals will be taken without a face mask and with the proper social distancing between people.

How will our room be ventilated? If the room is air conditioned can I be assured that it will have been tested and meet the current government standard for Covid safe air conditioning?

Some of the suites that we use have air conditioning. For example, The Park Suite at the Hogs Back has air conditioning. The Hogs Back confirms that the air conditioning has been tested and meets current Government Covid standards.  All of the rooms that we use have access to fresh air, such as windows that we can open to circulate fresh air. We very much doubt air conditioning will be needed in October.

What will be the arrangements for the sewing room with regard to hand washing/hand sanitising?

All of the hotels will have ample hand sanitizers throughout, including the meeting rooms. Please bring your own for extra protection if you wish.

I note the dining arrangements from the hotel but how will this affect our group specifically? Will we be seated alone on separate tables and given reservation times to eat as we are all from separate households?

Dining will be staggered to allow us all to eat safely in two separate sittings. We will individually be asked to pre-order dinner during the day.

We are also looking into having the dining room reserved just for us. The Hogs Back, for example, has reserved their Garden Room (holds 60 people) for the sole use of guests throughout the weekend.

What happens if there is a 2nd lockdown?

Rest assured. If a retreat is cancelled because of coronavirus, you will have the option to (1) stay with your select retreat which will be rescheduled for next year, (2) switch your booking to one of our other retreats, or (3) receive a full refund.

What if I choose to cancel?

Sadly, if you wish to cancel your booking then cancellation fees apply. You can find our Terms & Conditions on our website and on the back of your booking form.

We don’t like applying cancellation fees. We apply cancellation fees because is charged by the hotel in advance to reserve rooms and other facilities (e.g. classroom). When cancels a booking, the hotel charges cancellation fees at a sliding scale based on the number of weeks before the event that the cancellation is given. In other words, we are passing along the cancellation costs that we are charged by the hotels. There is also a non-refundable deposit which covers admin costs per booking.

It is worth noting that the information listed above is based on what we know at the time of writing this blog post. We are very closely monitoring the news and will follow any guidelines that are provided by the Government. We are also in constant contact with the hotels for any new information from their end.

We hope this post fully answers your questions and that you feel you will be completely safe with the procedures set out by both and the hotel. Your safety is of the upmost importance to us. Please be assured that we would not be going forward with a weekend retreat if we felt there was a risk to anyone.

If you have any additional questions, please contact us at .