Around the world, amateur radio special event stations will mark the event on the air, starting on the 18th at 0000UTC and continuing until the 19th at 2359.
The theme this year is Celebrating Amateur Radio’s Contribution to Society and the Covid-19 pandemic casts the event in a different light than in years past.
A few short weeks ago, many of us could not imagine the levels of isolation that we are now dealing with and the sacrifices of many on the front lines of the pandemic. As we have done in past challenges to our society, amateur radio will play a key part in keeping people connected and assisting those who need support.
Dave Wilson, M0OBW, RSGB President, and Ian Shepherd, G4EVK, RSGB Board Chair have a message to radio amateurs.
“We hope that you all understand the very serious nature of the current health crisis. As you are now aware, the situation has dramatically worsened and we have all been ordered to stay at home unless travelling for a specific and unavoidable reason. As radio amateurs we are in the fortunate position of being able to talk to other amateurs and chat to those who are finding it tough going. Ian and I are asking you, as radio amateurs, to please do one thing for us: search out local amateurs and arrange a sked, not necessarily on air: there are many alternatives we can all use such as video calls, or even a simple phone call. Pay particular attention to those who you know or learn to be alone or who are vulnerable for whatever reason. We are all in this together! Keep safe.”
There is no doubt that these are challenging times. However, licensed radio amateurs have a great way of keeping in touch with one another across the world. Clubs and groups are launching virtual meetings to make sure no-one feels isolated in the coming weeks.
We have also seen radio amateurs step up with extra nets and repeater check-ins to provide welfare checks on all local amateurs.
As a result of the UK government’s recent advice on social distancing, it is with regret that the HF Contest Committee (HFCC) and the VHF Contest Committee (VHFCC) have decided that, with immediate effect and until the end of June 2020, we will no longer accept multi-operator contest entries for any RSGB Contest.
Single operator entries from shared stations will also not be accepted, unless the station is being shared by family members living at the same postal address. The HFCC has taken the decision that the RSGB HF CW NFD Contest (June) is cancelled for this year.
We have decided not to ban portable operation by single operators because of the potential mental health benefits associated with engaging in hobbies etc. as well as the lack of person-to-person contact in normal single operator contesting. However, we encourage everyone to follow the government guidelines regarding social distancing and unnecessary travel.
We will review these rule changes regularly in line with the most recent government advice to determine if we need to extend or modify the restrictions. In early June we will decide if the VHF NFD, the IOTA Contest and SSB NFD can go ahead as planned.
The RSGB is, like all responsible organisations, following government advice about the Covid-19 virus. The Society is still planning to hold its AGM in Birmingham but is ready to change these plans as necessary if advice about public meetings is upgraded. We will, of course, keep Members informed so please do check our website and social media channels for updates.