It’s now 18 months since the last Easter Festival, and planning has begun for the 2021 event. After the huge disappointment of having to cancel the 2020 Festival due to the Covid-19 pandemic, it’s fair to say that none of us seriously anticipated back in April that there would be any problems with holding the 2021 Festival as normal and welcoming back all our visitors. This however is unfortunately not the case as things presently stand.
With six months to go until Easter, this would normally be the week when we would launch the publicity for the event and open entries, but we have decided to hold off from taking entries for the moment whilst we monitor the Island’s response to the continuing pandemic in the UK and beyond.
Here on the Isle of Man we are in a very fortunate situation. An early lockdown in March and the closing of the Island’s borders eliminated the virus here within a matter of weeks, and by June we were back holding sporting events with no restrictions. The removal of social distancing meant that life was essentially back to normal within the Island by mid-summer, and that remains the case.
In view of the present situation in the UK and beyond, the Isle of Man Government has continued to impose very strict limits on travel to the Island, and the Island’s Chief Minister made it clear recently that whilst cases continue to rise in the UK, these restrictions will remain in place for the foreseeable future. Anyone who enters the Island must self-isolate immediately on arrival for 14 days, with the option to pay £50 for a test after seven days, with lesser restrictions remaining in place for the next seven days if the result is negative. If the test is positive then a further 14 days of self-isolation must be undertaken. The penalty for non-compliance is a jail sentence, as quite a number of people have discovered.
In terms of the Easter Festival, what this means is that at present it is practically impossible for us as an organising team to ‘sell’ the event to visitors – which is a situation we desperately regret but have no control over whatsoever. It is possible that restrictions will have eased by Easter, but equally things may well be the same as they are now. In these circumstances, off-Island athletes – especially the big University teams – are advised not to make any definite arrangements to travel to the Festival at this stage. We will continue to update you all if there is any change.
Assuming that things remain as they are within the Island, the Festival will go ahead for local athletes as we feel that it is very important for the future of the event not to miss two years. We are not yet in a position to confirm the exact format at this stage, but we do expect to run all three races on the usual dates and times.
We are all so disappointed to have to issue this advice to all our wonderful visitors, who do so much year after year to make the Easter Festival such a vibrant and fun event. We really want you all back with us, even if it means waiting until 2022.
It is important that we all keep in touch at this difficult time so would encourage team organisers in particular to make contact either by e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org or through Facebook.
We will keep you updated.