Covid-19 Statement


2nd August 2021

We hope everyone has had a good spring and summer. We felt this would be a good time to summarize where we are now with Wild Insights events.

UK

At long last, life here in the UK is very close to normality and we can see the way forward for events which were postponed from before. So Northumberland, Winter Birds on the Dee, Anglesy/N Wales coast and Getting to grips with Raptors are now all scheduled to go ahead along with Higham events such as Winter Birds and Lakeland Birds. We do not anticipate any restrictions and will not be imposing any ourselves other than everyone needing to be double-vaccinated. We anticipate everyone is already and we might all be triple-vaccinated by then. Apart from possible residual policies in hotels it is not intended that face-masks will be required when we are operating as a group although there is of course no problem if anyone wishes to. If Government rulings change then we will re-assess accordingly.

Overseas

Overseas travel remains complex and totally chaotic, the only reliable feature being the complete unreliabitity. 'Traffic lights' which flick from one colour to another at a microsecond's notice, incomprehensibe categorizations such as 'Amber Plus' and constant paranoia about mythical vaccine-evading variants are simply perpetuating a lack of confidence. This is bad enough if you are travelling independently but for planning group events it is creating far too much uncertainty. The prospect of one or more members of a tour testing positive (even if they have no symptoms) raises all sorts of questions such as whether the whole group would have to isolate and possibly quarantine in the country concerned with further quarantine on return to the UK. Aside from the misery of solitary confinement in an airport hotel, the uninsurable loss of flights, the purchase of new ones, additional hotel costs and refunding of the cancelled tour add up to a potentially eye-watering sum and not one which Linda and myself are able to underwrite. So, please be assured that:

1) we will not be travelling until there has been a significant period of  confidence and stability
2) testing is no longer needed either before or after travel and
3) evidence of full vaccination is the only mandatory requirement, both going and returning.

At this point the prognosis does not look good but varies from country to country, continues to change on a daily basis and because of this we have agreed to review the situation at the end of August.

5th March 2021

Hello again everyone and we hope you are beginning to feel the tangible sense of optimism which is following the spectacularly successful vaccination campaign. I had my first on Wednesday this week and we are seeing the clear, irrefutable results which will progressively return our lives to normal. Clearly, the unlocking of the country is going to be in cautious stages and this means that there will be an initial emphasis on UK events. Unsurprisingly we have been receiving quite a few additional enquiries for UK breaks/workshops.

It is difficult to predict how quickly and by what route international travel will resume but perhaps a clue might come from both Cyprus and Portugal which have both announced a warm welcome to UK visitors who can verify receipt of both vaccine doses. This will hopefully set a precedent which others will wish to follow, if only to avoid seeing all their tourism divert itself to Cyprus and Portugal. Of course this only addresses the outbound journey but just as there were travel corridors last year it is expected that the same principle will apply and hopefully the combination of vaccination and low virus prevalence will give sufficient confidence for countries to set up reciprocal arrangements.

In the meantime, we have continued to de-risk our overseas plans by postponing into 2022 by which stage even the gloomiest forecasters are agreeing we will be in a much different situation and we may well see recovery happening sooner.

5th January 2021

Happy New Year to everyone and despite everything we hope the festive period was enjoyable nonetheless.

As we enter into 2021 we are all looking for signs that we are emerging from this long tunnel and the announcements about the third lockdown are clearly not going to help any feeling of optimism. However, it was always going to get worse before it got better and we must just keep our minds focused on the massive ray of hope in the form of not one, but two vaccines with the recent addition of Oxford/AstraZeneca.

We were also informed last night of the clear target to have everyone over 70 vaccinated my mid-February along with all clinically extremely vulnerable people, with a weekly aim of 2 million innoculations. This is a massive undertaking but I understand that the NHS is geared up and ready to go, the only limiting factor being the authorisation of batches of vaccine before they are packaged and distributed.

In the meantime, we have taken the predicted step of postponing all events originally scheduled for the first half of this year and have provided options to everyone of postponement or refund of any payments accordingly. Once again you have been clear in your support of this pragmatic approach; we can all see how unpredictable everything is at the moment. We indicated this clearly in the new 2021 calendar which we hope you have received.

Difficult though it is, we must just remain as positive as we can over the next month or so and we should start to see the first tangible results as the vaccines protect those who might otherwise have become seriously ill. We are informed that this will then enable a start in the easing of restrictions which will, in turn, allow us to plan with more confidence.


11th November 2020

The announcments this week regarding the BioNtech/Pfizer vaccine is the news we have been waiting for and with several other vaccine candidates likely to produce similarly positive data there is a growing sense of optimism we will begin to emerge from the crisis. As you know, the NHS is gearing up for a massive vaccination programme. This now enables us to start looking ahead with a greater level of confidence and whilst this process will take time and there are still important stages to get past there seems to be considerable hope we will be getting back to normal during the first half of 2021.

In the meantime we will continue to carefully follow the guidelines and exercise patience.

And the other good news is that we feel sufficiently confident to produce a printed calendar which we aim to get to you before Christmas!

3rd November 

We have been careful to recognise the uncertainties which continue to dominate any event-planning and our strategy of postponing if in doubt is undoubtedly the right one, although we understand how desperate everyone is to get back to normal. We will continnue to contact everyone well ahead of scheduled events and stick to this plan.

This situation has of course had an impact on the production of the usual calendar which where we simply cannot put in events with confidence at the moment. We hope you will undertsand that until we are in a clearer position we will be using this website and e-mail as the main means of communication about future activities.

We believe, despite the current situation, there will be good news arriving soon which will provide a clearer path to getting out of the problem. The biggest hints have come from not only the PM but also Professor Whitty and Sir Jeremy Farrar, all of whom refer to the spring being very different.

In the meantime please keep well and also keep positive.


25th October 2020

Like everyone, we watch the events unfolding from day to day, searching for any small glimmers of hope. It seems that the media and those running the country don't think we need any words of optimism but with a little digging you find that there are 180 vaccines in research with six at an advanced stage. It also seems that there is considerable hope the front-runner from the Jenner Instute at Oxford might be submitting results for approval very soon.

So, although we are all getting desperate to get back to normal we need to be patient and because of this we continue to avoid  running events which might be adversely affected by all the uncertainties. However, Higham Hall has taken considerable trouble to ensure a safe environment and its status as an educational establishment enables it to operate where others may not be able to. This gives the greatest opportunity to provide activities with the lowest risk and I have added in some extra events accordingly. See the Calendar page.

With all other events we have adopted the policy of postponing rather than going through the stress of not knowing whether an event is on or off until the last minute. Instead we are looking to a future when we can return to some kind of reasonable normality and this may not be too far off.

In the meantime, please keep safe and well and we will continue to update you on everything via this site and please keep an eye of this page and the News page for updates.


11th September 2020

We hope everyone has been able to remain safe and well since the unwanted arrival of Covid-19 earlier this year.

Since we set up Wild Insights there have been occasional challenges - the ash cloud from Iceland, an earthquake in Costa Rica and of course 9/11 but nothing to compare with the events of this year which saw all of our plans disappear over the cliff edge.

We are more fortunate than many - well able to weather the storm and ready to resume activities when the time is right. Our policy right from the outset was to make everyone's health and safety the first priority and, where necessary, postpone events, thereby preserving everyone's bookings as much as possible. For anyone unable to postpone we have provided speedy refunds.  So, rather than trying to travel with all the current chaos and uncertainty, not to mention a general feeling of unease, it has been our intention to be patient and allow proper stability to return. We are extremely grateful for the overwhelming level of understanding everyone has shown in these difficult times.

We know that everyone will understand the considerable financial risk of purchasing flights and/or paying out deposits for accommadation and transport whilst maintaining our refund assurance should cancellation be necessary. This is a risk we cannot sustainably underwrite, hence the policy to postpone until the environment is safe. Without any clear horizon none of us know how long it might take for normality to return and for this reason we have avoided prematurely making decisions, but instead keeping those who are booked on events appropriately informed of the possible risks whilst putting in place potential alternative dates.

We are of course all hopeful for some good news and with so many vaccination programmes progressing around the world it is more likely than not we will hear something positive soon.

So, what about the 2021 calendar? It seems almost unthinkable that we allow a break in this traditional publication and normally this would have been sent out to everyone on our mailing list last month. However we are sure you will understand that putting anything in print against a background of constant change makes little sense so instead we will be producing a virtual calendar for 2021 on this website which will of course show all our plans going forward to the end of 2022. If, by some miracle, life returns to normal before the year end we can consider the option of printing the calendar in the usual way.

In the meantime, please keep an eye on the Calendar page on this website which shows all events listed chronologically. I am pleased to say that Higham Hall has already resumed its series of courses (with appropriate measures). Please check the Calendar page or go straight to the Courses page for details.

You might also like to check on the News page ; one bonus of lockdown has been more time to add news items! We will also be sending out the occasional e-newsletter for those on our e-mailing list.

Thanks again for all the support throughout, keep safe and well and we look forward to resuming activities as soon as we are able.



Keith & Linda