Photo: Government advice on Coronavirus

Community Buildings Coronavirus (COVID-19) Update 1 December 2020

1st December 2020


This article contains information for village halls and community buildings on the Tiers system, preparing for re-opening and Christmas activities.


Please note, the ACRE Information has been updated in line with Government guidance. Visit the ACT Coronavirus page to access the latest update


The local restrictions are set out here https://www.gov.uk/guidance/local-restriction-tiers-what-you-need-to-know.

  • Community buildings can be open in a Covid-19 secure way with all the previous safety measures, QR code posters, and observing: Hands, Face, Space.
  • Fitness classes can go ahead in Tier 2, with mixing only permitted in household or social bubbles, so not the rule of 6. And clearly 2 meters social distancing from any other bubble or individual.
  • Indoor exercise and dance classes and sports are permitted in Tier 1 in accordance with the rule of 6, in Tier 2 with social mixing limited to households/support bubbles. In Tier 3 they are not permitted. Exceptions apply e.g. supervised activities for under 18s
  • Indoors, the rule of 6 applies in Tier 1, In Tiers 2 and 3 any social mixing – should only be within households/support bubbles. This also applies to places of worship.
  • Christmas fayres and Santa’s grottos are permitted in COVID-19 secure venues.
  • Public attendance at indoor and outdoor performances, shows (e.g. school nativity plays, Christmas pantomimes) and sporting events is limited to 50% of capacity in Tiers 1 and 2 but not permitted at halls in Tier 3. Film shows, plays, concerts, spectators at sports events are not permitted in Tier 3.
  • There are slightly different rules for cafes and bars in Tiers 1 and 2. In Tier 3 takeaway, delivery or click and collect services only are permitted.
  • Funerals may take place with 30 attending, wakes and similar events with 15 attending.
  • Weddings may take place with 15. Wedding receptions are permitted with 15 in Tiers 1 and 2 but not permitted in Tier 3.
  • Halls in Tier 3 may not be used for private hire e.g. birthday parties.
  • There is an exemption for formal support groups, and parent and child groups in all Tiers on gathering limits - up to 15 people aged 5 and older.
  • Outdoors the rule of 6 applies to all public spaces e.g. recreation fields, parks, public gardens.
  • From 23rd December to 27th December, people may choose to form a “Christmas bubble”.
  • On New Year’s Eve the normal rules for the Tier apply. Consequently, it is unlikely that a hall in a Tier 3 area could be used other than for a wake or wedding, but halls in Tiers 1 and 2 could be hired for e.g. a concert, a wedding reception, a dinner.
  • People are encouraged not to travel between Tiers, but you do not have to stop them attending your events or usual activities, particularly if required for mental and physical wellbeing. However, hirers can be asked to be extra vigilant about Hands, Face, Space.
  • Carol singing is permitted providing the guidance for the performing arts is followed. The following guidance has been released at:https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/covid-19-suggested-principles-of-safer-singing.

With evidence that several outbreaks of COVID-19 have been associated with adult choir rehearsals and performances and in church congregations across the world the government suggests that, if other national and local guidance is followed, singing is safer when the following actions are taken:

  • People with symptoms of COVID-19, or known to have been in recent contact with others who have COVID-19, should not participate in singing or attend singing events.
  • Singing takes place only in larger well-ventilated spaces, or outdoors.
  • Performance or rehearsal is for limited periods of time at a reduced level of loudness, using microphones for amplification if available.
  • Limited numbers of people sing together.
  • Singers are spaced at least 2 metres apart in all directions (at least 1 metre apart if the additional measures or controls recommended in government COVID-19 guidance for the performing arts are applied). Performing arts - Working safely during coronavirus (COVID-19) - Guidance - GOV.UK (www.gov.uk) 

While it is not possible to be certain that wearing a face covering whilst singing reduces the transmission of the virus, since face coverings have been shown to reduce the mass of aerosol expelled during singing, their use might be considered as additional precautionary mitigation, where practicable. 

Performances by pupils, such as nativity plays, should take place within existing school bubbles and avoid mixing across groups. In Tiers 1 and 2, parents are permitted to attend, subject to appropriate safeguards, but in Tier 3 audiences are not permitted so livestreaming and recording performance would be required.

Supervised activity for children is exempt from limits on gatherings in every tier. This means children’s choirs and other out-of-school settings can continue in accordance with the protective measures guidance for holiday or after-school clubs and other out-of-school settings.

Christmas lunch gatherings at village and community halls

In the past some halls have been used either to provide Christmas lunch for those living alone who would otherwise not see anyone on Christmas Day or hired by large families. A Christmas lunch for those living alone run by a formal organisation appears to be permitted in all Tiers under the exemption for support groups, providing no more than 15 people (plus volunteer staff) attend. Seating arrangements will need to take account of anyone who is clinically vulnerable. The guidance for restaurants should be followed (e.g. table service only). In Tiers 1 and 2 it may be possible to cater for a higher number, in accordance with guidance for restaurants.

This year it is possible that families with small homes, especially those with relatives who are medically vulnerable, may consider hiring a hall so that they have a larger space to allow adequate social distancing for a “Christmas bubble”. At present Government Guidance indicates it is permissible except in Tier 3, where private hires are not allowed. ACRE are checking the position.

Guidance for early years, childcare and out of school settings re-issued

This has been re-issued to take account of the return to regional restrictions on December 2nd, e.g. concerning site visitors; guidance on singing and dancing in line with that for the performing arts. 

See: Actions for early years and childcare providers during the coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak - GOV.UK (www.gov.uk) and Protective measures for holiday or after-school clubs and other out-of-school settings for children during the coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak - GOV.UK (www.gov.uk)

Sale of Christmas Trees 

The Health Protection Regulations have been amended to permit the sale of natural Christmas Trees. This would permit a stall being set up in a hall car park.

Tier Posters

A series of posters displaying information about the various tiers of restrictions in England from 2 December 2020 are available here: Tier posters: Medium, High and Very High - GOV.UK (www.gov.uk)

All the above may be subject to change, defendant on the vote in Parliament on the 2nd December.

Please visit the ACRE website (Action with Communities in Rural England) for further information and please Contact Us at ACT if you have any questions or issues you would like to discuss for your hall.

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