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Community Buildings Coronavirus (COVID-19) Update - 21 July 2020

21st July 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 4), following further Government Guidance, clarification and announcements. Please also read the previous 2, 11, 16 June and 3, 8 July 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:

Thank you to everyone who provided feedback on the Government Guidance for the safe use of multi-purpose community facilities. This was passed to ACRE and to the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government (MHCLG), informing the review and clarification of some key points. Links have also been added to guidance on: rehearsal and training; maintaining records of visitors to support NHS Test and Trace; and the phased return of sport and recreation.

The ACRE Information Sheet has now also 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 4 (issued 20 July) available below, with appendices also available as Word documents:

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

The ACRE Information Sheet may be updated in accordance with any further changes to the Public Health Regulations and subsequent Government guidance.

Information Sheet Issue 4: 20th July 2020

Version 4 of the Re-opening Information Sheet for Village Halls has been issued, to reflect the Government information at 20th July and anticipates changes at 25th July and 1st August. The changes mainly reflect the Government guidance around the opening of performance and sport venues, which are reflected in revision of Appendix D (Management of Social Distancing – a risk-based approach) and new appendices J and K, which summarise key points as they are most likely to affect village halls and similar facilities, such as allowing yoga, keep fit, rehearsals and live performances.

Social distancing has been a common cause of confusion and updated Government guidance for individuals was released on 18th July, including specific guidance that seated wedding receptions for up to 30 are permitted from 1st August. Further guidance about social distancing is given at the end of Appendix D, rather than in Section 2.2, and we hope this clarifies where responsibility lies.

There are consequential tweaks to the Special Conditions of Hire (i.e. to the reference on social distancing, to remove the ban on performances, add an optional condition on compliance with any governing sport guidance). Other changes to Appendix D answer common queries e.g. about hiring for children’s parties, children’s entertainers, toddler groups, games.

ACRE’s aim is that as further easing of lockdown takes place further changes to the Information Sheet are likely to primarily be in Appendix D, which should be easier for everyone to keep up with.

Risk Assessment – identifying ‘sensible measures’

We would like to reassure hall committees and hirers that you can only do your best and that carrying out a risk assessment helps to show that this is what you have done.

A useful reminder from the Government guidance for the Performing Arts:

“A risk assessment is not about creating huge amounts of paperwork, but rather about identifying sensible measures to control the risks in your workplace.”

ACRE’s feedback to MCHLG highlighted the concerns of trustees and it is important to remember those words “sensible measures”, to avoid unnecessary worry and expense. In the (hopefully unlikely) event that an outbreak occurs in a community then additional measures might need to be considered, otherwise the focus should be on the 5 COVID-19 secure guidelines – as set out in the ACRE Information Sheet.

Physical activities for Under 18’s

The Government Guidance has been amended to confirm that activities that would typically take place in a gym, sports venues, or a fitness or dancing studio are now permitted to take place in an indoor community facility where they relate to children and young people (under 18) and follow Department for Education guidance on protective measures for out-of-school settings

Face Coverings

From 24th July face coverings are required in shops, so this includes community shops, post offices and indoor markets in village halls. Further details in the ACRE Information Sheet (page 5).

Parent and Toddler groups

ACRE confirms that pre-school type arrangements are appropriate i.e. focus on hand cleanliness, no soft toys and try to arrange the room into small groups, but recognise that it may not be perfect so any parents with clinically vulnerable close relatives may need to think carefully about attendance.

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.

ACT Community Buildings Events

Following the success of our first online Community Buildings Event, we’re planning another. The event will be followed by a series of smaller online discussion groups to provide an opportunity for discussion and sharing of experience:

Community Buildings Event (presentation with Q&A)

Follow up discussion groups (max. 15 people, 1 per hall)

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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