Photo: Government advice on Coronavirus

Community Buildings Coronavirus (COVID-19) Update - 2 June 2020

2nd June 2020

This article contains information for village halls and community buildings on possible re-opening dates; activities in and outside your hall; and financial assistance to help with loss of income.

Re-opening village halls and community centres:

Government has laid out its recovery plans in ‘Our Plan to Rebuild’. These plans are contingent on the ‘R’ rate of COVID-19 infection not increasing. They may be adjusted or rescinded either nationally, or possibly, in certain parts of the country.

  • Step 1: From 13th May outdoor facilities can be used by members of the same household and one other person e.g. tennis courts and bowling greens. Public play equipment must remain closed and will not be available to Pre-Schools.
  • Step 2: From 1st June Nurseries and Pre-Schools re-open. ACRE guidance for village halls re-opening for Pre-Schools and Nurseries has been shared with ACT’s community buildings contacts in Cumbria and is also available via the ACRE website
  • Step 3: The aim is that public buildings can open from, at the earliest, 4th July but it is unlikely crowded events e.g. theatrical productions, wedding receptions will be permitted until later. ACRE is currently drafting guidance to assist halls to prepare for re-opening and ACT will share this when it is available.
Activities in village halls:

All village halls must remain closed and not allow activities to take place at this time, except for provision of essential services or early years childcare (details below).

The relevant amendment to Health Protection Regulations from 11.30 on 1st June reads:

5. (7) A person who is responsible for a community centre must ensure that, during the emergency period, the community centre is closed except where it is used to provide

(a) essential voluntary activities or urgent public support services (including the provision of food banks or other support for the homeless or vulnerable people, blood donation sessions or support in an emergency), or

(b) for early years childcare provided by a person registered on the Early Years Register under Part 3 of the Childcare Act 2006.

“Early years childcare” is defined as in the Childcare Act 2006 and means for children from birth to five years old.

Post Office services:

Post Offices have been classed by Government as an essential service (according to the Post Office website) . They can change their opening hours or close due to Coronavirus related illness during this time. ACRE is making further checks and will confirm when the situation is clearer.

Outdoor markets and use of car park:

Using the hall car park for outdoor markets is allowed but committees must make sure that the hall’s insurance company is informed, similarly if 6 people decide to meet. Remember the car park is the responsibility of the hall charity and the committee have a duty of care.

Toilets and kitchens:

Although groups of 6 can meet outdoors in private gardens of public spaces from 1st June, and families meeting in a garden can access a toilet in a private house, toilets (and kitchens) in village and community halls must remain closed to the public until regulations are changed.

Legionnaires Disease:

Guidance is available from the Government HSE website and The main point to note is that the minimum expectation for small, simple hot and cold water systems would be flushing through with fresh mains water.

Retail, Hospitality and Leisure Grant (yes this includes village halls!):

Don’t be put off by the name, the Government’s ‘Retail Hospitality and Leisure Grant’ of £10,000 (£25,000 for premises with a rateable value over £15,000) is available from your local district council. The vast majority of village halls are eligible for this grant to assist small ‘businesses’ affected by COVID-19 restrictions. NB: This includes charities already in receipt of 100% rate relief.

When considering whether or not to claim the grant, please take into account not only the loss of hall hire income, but also the loss of income from your fundraising events and activities which would have taken place at the hall. The application process is simple and there is no need to evidence loss of income to receive the grant.

Contact Us at ACT if you have any questions or have not yet claimed this grant for your hall.

New Small Business Discretionary Grant:

For the small number of halls which are not eligible for the RHL grant e.g. church halls, you may be able to apply for a new ‘Small Business Discretionary Grant’ from your local district council. Applicants will need to provide evidence of loss of income. Businesses which have already received the RHL or other Business support grant are not eligible for this Discretionary Grant.

The first application window is open from Monday 1st June – Monday 15th June (visit your local authority website for details):

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.

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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