First published: August 2021

Second update: September 2021

Third update: December 2021 

Fourth update: January 2022

Updated: February 2022

Introduction

When we launched the District Conference in July 2021, the world was slowly coming out of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Since then, we have had the Delta and Omicron variants with the Government announcing in December fresh measures to curb the spread. These have included some venues and events being legally required to check the Covid status of visitors aged over 18 and the compulsory wearing of face coverings in most indoor public venues.

So, what shape will the world be in this March by the time of our District Conference?

We want to put on a conference where delegates feel safe and confident about an event where there will be a large gathering of people.

By inviting you to book so that we can plan ahead, the District Conference team wants to be as transparent as possible about its plans. In the event of a further lockdown or restrictions in early 2022, it is important you know what the contingencies are, and how these would affect you:

The key points are:

  • We are planning a safe conference, in line with Government policy and Rotary guidance.
  • We appreciate some delegates will be nervous about booking ahead in an uncertain climate.
  • We have a refunds policy which is clear, offering a risk-free approach to delegates booking for Oxford 2022.
  • We want to reassure delegates that their safety and welfare is paramount. By booking and supporting the district conference, they will not lose out financially.

Venues

Oxford 2022 will be based at several venues across the city over the three days. We would expect all delegates to have received Covid vaccinations, unless medically exempt.

We will not be asking for evidence that delegates have received a full set of vaccinations but, as Rotarians, we would expect everyone to act responsibly and be mindful of their fellow delegates.

We will be asking delegates to take daily Lateral Flow Tests prior to the conference, during and after the conference. Should you test positive before the conference, then you should isolate at home and not attend. Should you receive a positive test in the immediate wake of the conference, then please contact Conference Chairman, Dave King, at: peekay63@hotmail.co.uk

For those attending with children, notably parents, or teachers visiting with school children, we would expect them to ensure their charges are Covid-free and have taken a lateral flow test on the day of the event.

King’s Centre, Osney Mead

This venue will host the main conference events, including plenary sessions, the Rotary technology tournament and Rotary Village, on Friday and Saturday for up to 500 delegates.
For the plenary sessions, theatre-style seating will be used in the Thames Hall. All visitors will be expected to wear face masks when moving about the venue.
Signs for NHS Track and Trace QR codes will be posted about the building so delegates can register their presence. There will also be sanitising stations throughout the building, and the King’s Centre staff will be employing cleaning measures to ensure a safe environment.
Each of the rooms in the King’s Centre will be set up to ensure the safest possible environment to hold a conference.
Fortunately, the King’s Centre is a large facility, with the two main conference halls – the Thames and Cotswold halls – both more than 30 metre square in size. This will allow for acceptable social distancing.

Exeter Hall, Kidlington

This venue will host the Friday evening dinner theatre event for up to 160 guests. This number has been reduced from the maximum of 200 guests to allow for a safer environment.

Guests will be asked to wear masks when entering the venue.

As with the King’s Centre, there will be QR codes printed on posters for the NHS Track and Trace app. Guests will be encouraged to take a lateral flow test before coming to the venue.

Exeter Hall staff will be taking stringent measures to ensure the safety of all diners.

Exeter Hall, Kidlington (© Copyright Alan Hunt and licensed for reuse under this Creative Commons Licence.)
Keble College

Keble College, Oxford

This venue will host the Saturday evening St Patrick’s Day dinner for up to 300 guests.

Masks will be expected to be worn once you enter Keble College through the main door and then once inside the Keble College dining hall or Keble College chapel.

Keble College will be taking stringent precautions to ensure the safety of all diners.

Oxford City Centre

This will host a number of activities on Sunday, including an environmental challenge and tours of the Oxford colleges by Rotary scholars. Tour numbers will be 15-20 for each tour, and masks will be worn inside the colleges.

Three environmental challenges are planned which will all take place outdoors and which could potentially host around 100 people.
The Sea Cadets will be assisting with a river cleaning challenge on the Sunday morning from 10am, with Rotarians working on the water and riverbank. Two tree-planting projects have been arranged at the Restore Centre on Cowley Road and with the Cherwell Collective. Even though delegates will be outdoors, we will still have Covid measures in place.

*The numbers for Exeter Hall and Keble College are based on venue capacity. The other guest/delegate numbers are best guestimates.

Each of the venues are quite different, each with differing abilities to hold a socially-distanced event.

 

For example, the King’s Centre is a large, spacious venue which would be well suited to staging a socially-distanced conference, with some modifications. Whereas a dinner at Keble College is likely to be impossible to host if tight Government restrictions are in place. The event at Exeter Hall might also be difficult to run.

In planning for Oxford 2022, we have identified key pinch points in the conference timetable. These are dates when we will be forced to make critical decisions about the viability of the event should Government and Rotary guidance change in the wake of a resurgence in Covid cases this winter.

It may be prudent to cancel one or more of the events if the Thames Valley region goes into another lockdown situation or new social distancing restrictions are in place.

Also, we have to be prepared for the eventuality that the conference may be cancelled. In the event of the conference being cancelled, then provision is being made for an online district conference.

Cancellation and refunds

Full or part conference cancellation:

In the event of the Thames Valley region going into a Government-enforced lockdown this winter because of a resurgence of COVID-19, the following provisions have been made by the District Conference team:

  • The key cut-off date for cancellation of the entire conference is Friday, February 18th, 2022. At this date or before, all monies will be returned to delegates and guests from registration fees at the King’s Centre, and tickets to both the evening events at Exeter Hall and Keble College.
  • If social distancing measures mean the conference team cannot stage the evening events at Exeter Hall and Keble College – but the main conference can go ahead at the King’s Centre – then the conference team has until Friday, February 18th, 2022 to cancel Exeter Hall and Keble College. At this date or before, all monies will be returned to guests who booked tickets to the dinner-theatre and St Patrick’s Day dinner. However, registration fees for the King’s Centre conference would not be refunded, since this would still take place.

 

Individual cancellation:

In the run-up to Oxford 2022, some delegates may be nervous about underlying Covid conditions, even though there have been no Government-enforced lockdown or restrictions, and the team is continuing with the conference planning.

Equally, some delegates, or their partners, may be unwell, or because of important, unexpected commitments (Covid or non-Covid), they may be unable to attend.

As with previous conferences, anyone who has registered for Oxford 2022, and the evening dinners, who is forced to cancel for any reason, can do so with a full refund if they inform the registrations officer on or before 11.59pm on January 31st, 2022.

Any delegate choosing to cancel from February 1st, 2022 until March 4th, 2022, would be eligible for a partial refund at the discretion of the conference team chairman and treasurer.
After March 4th, regrettably there would be no refunds – and we would hope Rotarians would understand why because of cost undertakings.

Last resort cancellation:

The conference team would have the right to cancel the conference if, because of a Rotary District-wide state of concern, there was a lack of delegates registering or a large number of delegates cancelled prior to February 18th taking the finances below a break-even point. This would be a measure of last resort.

We hope Rotarians will continue to support the conference, bearing in mind provisions set out to ensure a safe environment for all conference events, closely following Government and Rotary guidelines, supported by a structured refund policy which recognises the uncertainty of COVID-19.

This document will be regularly updated according to the latest Government and Rotary guidance.

First published: August 2021

Second update: September 2021

Third update: December 2021 

Fourth update: January 2022

Updated: February 2022