From today, daily press conferences will be hosted by the Prime Minister and Senior Ministers on the coronavirus pandemic, supported by scientific and medical experts including the Chief Medical Office and Chief Scientific Adviser. The Grand Lodge of Scotland will abide fully with all recommendations emanating from the Government press conferences. Accordingly, Lodge Secretaries will receive updated advice immediately it becomes available.
Included in their latest announcement, coronavirus-covid-19-uk-government-response, is the recommendation that arranging group events of 500 people or more should be discouraged. For this very reason we have decided to postpone the Divine Service scheduled to take place in Glasgow on Sunday, 29th March 2020.
I have been asked why we are not following Ireland, Sweden, Denmark and other countries in having a total ban – my understanding is that they have only done so because of Government intervention. If our Government issue similar instructions, we will comply immediately for as long as is necessary albeit I am aware that many Lodges have significant milestone events during May, June, July and August and we will do our best to accommodate those meetings if at all possible to do so.
The safety of our members and their families remains paramount – the NHS and BBC Virus update pages remain very useful and can provide far more regular updates than any other source – please visit them regularly to keep yourselves safe and aware of the latest developments but let me emphasise that those aged 65 or over, especially with respiratory problems, diabetes or heart issues, should refrain from attending meetings.
Whilst we have not yet imposed a blanket suspension on all Lodge activity throughout the Grand Lodge of Scotland, we do urge our Provincial and District Grand Masters to use their judgement at a local level and take such local decisions as are necessary and I have no hesitation in giving dispensation so to do.
We will constantly be in touch as and when significant updates are available – simply to ensure that you all have access to the best possible guidance and advice.
As a quick guide, the following recommendations are made for the safety of our Brethren and their families.
- Members who fall into the “higher risk” category (those over 65 or with underlying health issues) should not attend meetings.
- Almoners should try to contact higher risk members (not in person) to check on their welfare.
- Members should refrain from any physical contact at meetings. (including handshakes)
- Members who have had close contact with anyone who has had a cough, fever or breathing difficulties within the last 14 days should not attend meetings unless that person has subsequently tested negative for coronavirus or if anyone living in the same house as a member is diagnosed with coronavirus then that member’s Lodge(s) should cancel all meetings for the next 14 days.
Members have a duty of care to all other Lodge Members and should immediately report a positive coronavirus diagnosis to their Lodge Secretary. Likewise, Members also have a duty to report any symptoms (cough, fever or breathing difficulty) or any close contact with someone else who has symptoms. Failure to do so puts other members at risk. Upon receiving such notice, the Lodge should consider cancelling all meetings for the next 14 days, or longer as may be deemed appropriate.
Yours sincerely and fraternally
W Ramsay McGhee
Grand Master Mason