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Community Buildings Coronavirus (COVID-19) Update - 11 June 2020

11th June 2020

This article contains information for village halls and community buildings on possible re-opening; sport and recreation facilities; working with user groups; insurance, and converting ticket refunds and subscriptions into Gift Aid donations. Please also read the previous 2 June Update.

Information surrounding Coronavirus and COVID-19 may change; ACTion with Communities in Cumbria (ACT) recommends that everyone should follow the guidance issued by Public Health England and the NHS and keep abreast of the ever-changing situation.

Re-opening village halls and community centres:

At this point in time we believe halls may be able to open on Monday 6th July, if they are able to do so. There will not be a requirement to open.

ACRE (Action with Communities in Rural England) has been working with DEFRA and MHCLG (Ministry of Housing, Communities & Local Government) both to understand and influence the approach and guidance that will be pursued in relation to Community Centres. The following is the best intelligence at this time:

  • No change will be made to the Regulations as they affect Village Halls until 4th July or thereabouts. Most likely to come into effect on Monday 6th July.
  • MHCLG are aiming to publish formal Guidance during the “middle” of June to give Community Centres a little notice of the changes to restrictions placed upon them and Guidance to help them comply with this.
  • The aim is to produce this Guidance in the form of ‘signposting’ to other Guidance specific to the activity concerned and to try to ensure there is consistency between these.
  • The Guidance is being prepared in advance of the officials concerned knowing exactly how the Regulations will be amended. It is very likely, therefore, that the formal Guidance will be released in mid-June and then amended and re-released in the first week of July.
  • ACRE is writing guidance specifically for halls, in line with the formal Government guidance, and intends to make this available from mid-June. ACT will share this guidance with halls in Cumbria as soon as it is available and it will form the basis of our next online Community Buildings Event on Saturday 27 June (book here).
Sport and Recreation facilities:

The Department for Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS) has issued guidance on the phased opening-up of sport and recreation facilities and activities. This information will be useful for outdoor sports facilities and also applies to personal trainers and coaches, and those involved in "elite" sporting activities (as defined), as well as to the public.

  • Outdoor sports facilities (such as basketball and tennis courts, bowling greens and golf courses) and facilities for other outdoor sporting activities are permitted to reopen if those responsible for them are ready to do so and they can do so safely, following public health guidance, in particular the rules relating to distancing and hygiene. Indoor facilities, such as clubhouses, should be kept closed, apart from toilets and through-ways. Clubhouse bars and restaurants can offer take-away services, but consumption must be off the premises.
  • Each venue, including council-owned sport facilities, should make their own decisions about when their facilities are ready to open and can be operated safely. It is a decision for facility managers whether they hire out equipment, but they must implement sensible precautions, and clean equipment in between users.
  • Outdoor gyms, playgrounds and outdoor swimming pools must remain closed due to the higher risk of close contact and touching surfaces. Indoor facilities (such as changing rooms) should be kept closed, apart from toilets and through-ways.
  • Personal trainers may work with more than one client outdoors in a single day, provided each session is on a one-to-one basis, and those involved are maintaining social distancing and hygiene measures.
Working with User Groups:

Example from Sussex - Crowborough Community Centre has set up a small Coronavirus task group which meets virtually, every couple of weeks and keeps the rest of the trustees informed. They are working with users who are thinking about starting up activities again, on a strategy for re-opening and have emailed them the following questions, to help inform plans for operating in a way which is workable and safe.

  1. Are you hoping to restart / start your activities at the Centre soon?
  2. What factors might influence your decision?
  3. What risks can you identify for your activity?
  4. What measures would you anticipate putting in place yourself to mitigate these?
  5. What measures would you like to see the Centre put in place to assist your return?
  6. One option we are considering is initially phasing the opening of the Centre by only using the main hall, to ensure physical distancing, before opening the lower floor. Another possibility is that we may have very uneven demand for rooms when we first re-open which might make it necessary to restrict the number of days we are open, for example. Would your activity have any flexibility to work within restricted opening times?
  7. Is there anything else you would like to add?
From Village Hall Insurers

Allied Westminster Insurance Services Ltd tells ACRE that “Insurers are being more flexible than any other time, and as long as halls are not breaking Government Guidance or HSE rules they are being very accommodating. They want to see halls open safely as soon as they can as unoccupied buildings are always higher risk when it comes to material damage”

ACT will keep halls updated with any further information received from insurers.

Converting ticket refunds for cancelled events into Gift Aid donations

HMRC has issued guidance to help charities process ticket refunds, collect donations and reclaim Gift Aid for cancelled charity events. If a charity event is cancelled due to COVID-19, HMRC will accept that, where a person due a refund decides to donate this to a charity, the Gift Aid requirements are met provided the individual donor:

  • Does not receive a benefit as a result of their donation.
  • Agrees that the cost of their ticket becomes a donation.
  • Completes a Gift Aid declaration.

The charity must also keep an audit trail, including a copy of the agreement from the donor designating the ticket cost as a donation. This will avoid the need to physically refund the ticket price for the individual to re-donate. This facility is not available for postponed events.

Donations in lieu of membership subscriptions

HMRC has provided Charity Tax Group with an update in respect of Gift Aid on donations freely given to charities and CASCs while membership subscriptions have been suspended.

Join the Cumbria Village Halls Network on Facebook

For all our Cumbria village hall contacts, please consider joining the Cumbria Village Halls Network on Facebook, to keep in touch with other halls. This is a closed group for village hall volunteers in Cumbria. Search ‘Cumbria Village Halls Network’ on Facebook and request for join.

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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