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Community Buildings Coronavirus (COVID-19) Update 18th September 2020

18th September 2020

This article contains information for village halls and community buildings on preparing for re-opening. It includes links to updated ACRE Information Sheet (Version 6), following new regulations on social gatherings and further Government guidance. Please also read the previous 2nd, 11th, 16th June; 3rd, 8th, 21st July; and 21st August ACT Updates.

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:

The ACRE Information Sheet has been reviewed and updated. It is provided with the purpose of assisting village halls to interpret the Government guidance and find a way forward to re-opening. Please ensure you’re using the most up to date version 6 (dated 18 September) available below, with relevant appendices also available as Word documents for use. 

    Please note, the ACRE information sheet and appendices have been updated in line with Government guidance. Visit the ACT Coronavirus page to access the latest Update.

    Thank you for your continued questions and suggestions for the ACRE Information and Government guidance for multi-purpose community facilities. Your feedback helps us to work with ACRE and relevant Government departments to review, clarify and provide better information.

    Information Sheet Issue 6: 18th September 2020

    Version 6 of the Re-opening Information Sheet for Village Halls has been issued, to reflect the Government information at 18th September. Changes include:

    • Section 2.2c and Appendix D: Substantial changes to explain and reflect the new group limit of up to 6 people.
    • Appendix D: New section B ‘Group social interaction requirements’ and table of examples.
    • Appendix D: Clarifications on limits for religious ceremonies of 30. Revision to section on celebrations and lifestyle events to advise against wakes and children’s birthday parties. Added instead is a suggestion that organised children’s activities at half term and Christmas might engage children’s entertainers.
    • Appendix E: Special Hire Conditions SC6 and SC8 revised to reflect the above.
    • Section 2.2e and Appendix E, SC4, SC9: Revised to make it clear hirers and event organisers are required to keep contact details for NHS Test and Trace, rather than asking them to. In view of current capacity difficulties, the requirement to obtain a test has been amended from “get” to “seek”.
    • Appendix D: Out of date references removed (e.g. to nail bars not being able to open, wind instruments not being allowed).
    • Appendices F and G Risk Assessments: Row added to reflect new rule of 6 requirements and risk of mingling between groups. Section 2.5i in the information sheet includes a reminder that hirers using Appendix G should use it to think about preparing their own risk assessment, not just ‘adopt it’.
    • Appendix J, K – minor amendments to remove out of date prohibitions on singing, wind and brass, and update limits on outdoor groups, including spectators.

    Groups of no more than 6

    From 14th September new restrictions prevent people from gathering in a group of more than 6, whether indoors or outdoors, unless covered by an exemption. The limit does not apply to meetings of a single household group or support bubble which is more than 6 people. Exemptions are listed in the Government guidance on meeting with others safely.

    The Government guidance for community facilities confirms that COVID19 Secure halls can continue to host more than 6 people in total within their capacity limits, but no one must socialise in a group of greater than 6. Requirements for social distancing, the wearing of face coverings etc. still apply.

    The 14th September updated Government guidance for community facilities (section 3.c ‘Recreation, leisure and social gatherings’) has unfortunately given rise to misunderstanding and confusion. Halls are able to remain open and to host formal or informal clubs, hobby groups, amateur choirs and orchestras.

    The guidance stresses that activities and clubs must be limited to attendance in groups of no more than 6 people following social distancing rules. Only “where there is a significant likelihood (bold text is ACREs insert) of groups mixing and socialising (and where it will be difficult to prevent mingling and therefore breaking the law)” should activities not take place in a community facility.

    The listing in the guidance of activities such as Women’s Institutes, sewing clubs, book clubs, craft clubs, reading groups, amateur choirs and orchestras does not mean they cannot take place. It is a flag for organisers of such activities to take particular care to ensure that individuals attend them in groups no larger than 6, and that these small groups remain socially distanced from each other and do not mingle with other groups.

    Such groups and clubs are important for the wellbeing of individuals, particularly those who have been isolated from the company of friends and family over the last six months. The emphasis is clearly on the need to conduct such activities safely, not to prevent them.

    Guidance on phased return of outdoor sport and recreation

    Government guidance on sport and recreation has been revised to include guidance where it is anticipated that an activity will attract spectators. There should be a named person or persons with responsibility for ensuring adherence with the guidelines and ensuring the facility is COVID-19 Secure. The person should carry out and publish a risk assessment for the activity which limits the number of spectators and focuses on the need to maintain social distancing on arrival, throughout the activity, and on departure. Arrangements should also be put in place to support test and trace efforts by collecting information from spectators to allow NHS Test and Trace to contact them if necessary.

    Guidance for Out of School Settings

    Government has re-issued this guidance for out of school settings, which is designed for before and after school clubs, holiday playschemes and activities organised for children and young people up to the age of 18.

    Slimming world

    Although organisers of such weight loss businesses are ‘at work’ at a hall, they cannot assume the exceptions on group limits apply to people attending their business activity and they must respect the need for social distancing for any vulnerable clients (whether or not they attend in a group). This is reflected in the new part B of Appendix D.

    Test and Trace and signing by hirers

    There is no need for hirers to sign confirming they have collected details for Test and Trace, only to sign the hire agreement to confirm they will. It is then their responsibility.

    Shops and indoor markets and Test and Trace

    Community Shops and indoor markets have to follow the Government guidance for shops so do not need to comply with Test and Trace requirements. The same would apply for a Xmas Fayre. It’s difficult for the ACRE information to allow for all such exceptions; relevant sections of the hire agreement can be amended in line with Government guidance for that activity.

    Safe areas

    Designating a safe area into which someone can be moved if they appear to have developed COVID-19 symptoms is a matter of best practice. It needs to be a place where others can be kept away from them until they have transport home. This could be the kitchen, accessible toilet, the end of an unused corridor, committee room, but avoid using a place others are more likely to need to access, such as main toilets, entrance hall or exit routes.

    Retail, Hospitality and Leisure Grant

    If you haven’t already, please contact ACT contact ACT to let us know if your hall applied to your local district council for the Retail Hospitality and Leisure Grant, or a Discretionary Grant, and whether the grant was awarded.

    Sign up to receive future updates

    If you are involved in running a village hall or community building in Cumbria, and would like to receive information from ACT, please join our mailing list by becoming an ACT Supporter (it’s free!) and we’ll keep you updated.

    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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