A message from SCAR President Steven L. Chown:
In view of the developing situation, the SCAR Executive has been taking a range of actions, in discussion also with several partners.
At this point, SCAR recommends that Members and member scientists follow the advice of their country, state and/or institution, as applicable.
The SCAR Executive wishes, however, to alert Members and member scientists to the actions that have commenced, including with various partners:
The Local Organisers for SCAR-COMNAP 2020 are considering a number of options and contingencies to address this rapidly evolving situation. Further work to assess risk and mitigation will be undertaken shortly and will draw on key agencies and experts to inform this process. We then expect the Local Organisers to provide us with advice including a timeline for decisions about the SCAR-COMNAP 2020 meeting. This advice will be communicated as swiftly as possible. In the meantime, SCAR and COMNAP are proceeding in the expectation that the SCAR-COMNAP 2020 meeting will go ahead in Hobart exactly as planned.
The SCAR Secretariat has contacted the UK Charities Commission (SCAR is a Charity registered in the UK and is obliged to comply with the UK Companies Acts of 1985 and 2006) to determine the operational alternatives for the SCAR Delegates and Subsidiary Group meetings were a decision to be taken not to meet in person. SCAR’s Articles of Association require that the Delegates and the Science Groups meet in person, and to change these Articles of Association, the Delegates would have to meet in person, unless the Charities Commission grants SCAR special permission to do otherwise. A discussion about this matter has been initiated. The SCAR Delegates are obliged by the Articles of Association to meet at least once every 30 months.
Spending requirements for SCAR subsidiary groups in 2020 will be relaxed to accommodate the suspension, postponement or cancellation of any in-person subsidiary group meetings owing to the COVID-19 situation. Thus, subsidiary groups will not have to return funds not spent in 2020 to the central pool (as is usually the case), where in-person meetings or other in-person activities have been cancelled due to the coronavirus situation. The SCAR VP for Finance, Jefferson Simões, and the SCAR Secretariat will work with Chief Officers of Science Groups, Standing Committees, Scientific Research Programs and Program Planning Groups to give effect to this decision. Action and Expert Groups should liaise with the Chief Officers of the Science Group to which they report.
Decisions to suspend in-person subsidiary group meetings lie with organisers of those meetings and, where different from the organisers, in discussion with the Chief Officers of those groups. National, state and institutional advice supersedes any advice from SCAR. Nonetheless, SCAR suggests that a conservative approach should be followed, such that in-person meetings should be postponed, shifted to electronic means, or cancelled if any single proposed participant is precluded from attending by advice given to them, or if for personal reasons to do with the COVID-19 situation they elect to change their plans. SCAR has a subscription with the videoconferencing service ‘GoToMeeting’ and the Secretariat can assist any groups which decide to switch their in-person activities to an electronic format. Please direct queries to the Executive Director, Chandrika Nath.