MSG Tours Safety Protocols – 18 May 2021

It has been an uncertain time for MSG Tours during the COVID-19 pandemic with international borders closed, flights grounded, and people locked down. The experiences gained from travelling and touring the world are irreplaceable and you, as well as us, are itching to get back to seeing the world.

Travel and tourism is slowly and carefully easing back. While we look at the safest way to operate tours again, we want to reaffirm that the health and safety of all our tourists is the top priority.

Our brand is built on a passion for #DeliveringTheUnexpected which will not change. Now, our focus turns to building trust and confidence in our tourists.

You can book with MSG Tours with complete trust and confidence knowing the safety of your tour is paramount.

As members of the School Travel Forum, MSG Tours Ltd makes a commitment to secure the safety of all passengers by following very strict guidelines. Further information about our standards can be found here https://www.schooltravelforum.com/teachers-toolkit.

Considering the COVID-19 pandemic, we identify the need to specify procedures in relation to the pandemic and local guidelines. We are committed to ensuring the safe travel and enrichment of all our groups.

Every touring group must complete their own risk assessments, covering all aspects of the tour, from collection point to arrival point. A template for this can be found on the above teacher’s toolkit link.  Below, we have outlined our commitments and requirements in addition to any protocols the group has in place. A copy of this risk assessment must be made available to MSG Tours, to ensure we can facilitate the protocols which are outlined from this.

School Study Trips

Coaching

A majority of tours need coaching or transport in some way. Our Health and Safety models for this remain the same, which includes a comprehensive audit every 3 years of all transport providers. In addition to this we have also added the following measures:

  1. We will provide transportation in line with continuing advice. At present, vehicles should be confirmed allowing 50% capacity or no more than 70% (some coach providers are removing this limitation where rapid testing is currently in place). The first two rows behind the driver will always remain empty.
  2. Facemasks must be worn whilst on board any vehicle, and sanitiser to be used when boarding the vehicle.
  3. All coaching providers will be required to complete our internal audit form (if completed already, it is valid for 3 years) and an additional COVID Business Continuity Checklist. Any concerns and protocols will be presented to the group leader for review as part of their risk assessment.
  4. Where the school is doing so as part of their own safety protocols, testing must continue where humanly possible whilst they are on the trip.

Accommodation

Regardless of whether you are staying in a 5* Hotel or a Youth Hostel, every hotel must meet our exacting standards. We endeavour to visit hotels ourselves and get a deep dive into their safety operations, and where this is not possible, extensive checks are conducted remotely. Since the pandemic, we identify the need to take further action, and so we have added the following advice to our groups

  1. We will provide accommodation in line with continuing advice, as well as in line with providers Covid policies.
  2. Schools must only travel within bubbles (as outlined in the Residential Visit advice outlined by the Department of Education https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/health-and-safety-on-educational-visits/health-and-safety-on-educational-visits. These bubbles will need to be consistent for the duration of the trip. We will advise on all limitations and accommodation policies that are created from this advice, and these will form part of the school’s risk assessment for the trip.
  3. Facemasks are to be worn in indoor public spaces, unless advised otherwise by the provider. This is excluding personal rooms.
  4. Food and beverage services will be provided in line with local restrictions and served to the group as a bubble.
  5. All Accommodation providers will be required to complete our internal audit form (if completed already, it is valid for 3 years) and an additional COVID Business Continuity Checklist. Any concerns and protocols will be presented to the group leader for review as part of their risk assessment.

Activities and Excursions

All excursions and activities we use as part of our school groups are graded from the lowest ‘Look and See’ to the highest ‘Adventurous Activities’. These grades dictate the level of auditing and checks that an excursion receives. The highest Adventurous Activities are subject to a full external audit from a technical advisor, whilst museums and galleries provide a Health and Safety summary. MSG Tours appreciates that whilst there are restrictions, these activities pose a potential higher risk. Therefore, we will be applying the following additional measures:

 

  1. Excursions will be provided in line with local restrictions. Any policies or restrictions will be advised to the group to leader, to be considered within the risk assessment.
  2. Activity providers will provide a risk assessment to identify which safety protocols are to be put in place and summarise these in an easy-to-read summary.
  3. Any activity taking place where contact with anyone outside your bubble could happen, will be avoided at all costs, and where this is not possible, social distancing guidelines must be adhered to.
  4. These protocols must be adhered to by all taking part, and any refusal from the provider to deliver the service based upon the rules not being followed, is at the responsibility of the group leader.

Sports

Getting schools and youth clubs back playing sports is a huge passion of ours. We are experts in placing competitive teams against each other and delivering a safe and enjoyable experience, from training to tournaments. Every facility we use undergoes an assessment of suitability as standard. In addition to this, following government guidelines and our own diligence, we also make the following suggestions when arranging a sports tour.

  1. Please refer to local advice for grassroots sport here https://www.gov.uk/guidance/coronavirus-covid-19-grassroots-sports-guidance-for-the-public-and-sport-providers#how-to-participate-safely
  2. Sporting matches and training will be provided in line with local and national restrictions.
  3. We will continue to carry out risk assessments on the facilities where the sport will take place and return our findings to the group leader for consideration within the group’s own assessment.
  4. Outdoor sports, where formally organised by us, can be performed without gathering limits. Indoor Sports are exempt where the facility follows national guidelines for indoor sport, and are subject to changing guidelines.
  5. All action will be taken to avoid the contact of other bubbles, except where this is exempt during match play.
  6. All indoor contact will be prohibited until guidelines advise otherwise.
  7. Match officials will be exempt from gathering limits but are encouraged to social distance where possible.
  8. Changing facilities at sports venues should be only used for changing kits, and used for a limited time. Where possible the staging of groups entering changing rooms is encouraged. We advise against the use of showers and only use these facilities within the accommodation provision.

COVID-19 outbreak on tour.

If any of the group display symptoms of COVID-19 (one or more of the following):

  • a high temperature – this means you feel hot to touch on your chest or back (you do not need to measure your temperature)
  • a new, continuous cough – this means coughing a lot for more than an hour, or 3 or more coughing episodes in 24 hours (a normal cough may be worse than usual)
  • a loss or change to your sense of smell or taste – this means you have noticed you cannot smell or taste anything, or things smell or taste different to normal.

As a group we expect you to have your own procedures in this area, and we suggest standard POSI procedures, not limited to

  • Immediate isolation of the affected member of the group and those they are sharing a room with.
  • Remaining group to exercise strict social distancing and hygiene procedures.
  • Testing taken place at the earliest opportunity.
  • On return of a negative test, they can continue as normal, and we suggest a second test taken within 5 days.
  • On return of a positive test, the school must action their own protocols to protect the remaining group and Public Health. MSG Tours Ltd will operationally support in the arrangement of any requirements outlined.
COVID-19 MSG Tours adopt Safe Travels Stamp

We will assess every group on an individual basis, and support the operation of your tour and make suggestions to improve safety at all times. The above is a guideline, and will be changeable based upon local restrictions, travel advice and Department for Education guidelines.

 

We look forward to welcoming you back on tour!