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Community Buildings Coronavirus (COVID-19) Update 21st August 2020

21st August 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 5), following new regulations requiring face coverings and further Government guidance, clarification and announcements. Please also read the previous 2nd, 11th, 16th June and 3rd, 8th, 21st 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:

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 5.1 (dated 17 August) available below, with relevant appendices also available as Word documents for use:

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.

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 5.1: 17th August 2020

Version 5.1 of the Re-opening Information Sheet for Village Halls has been issued, to reflect the Government information at 17th August. Changes include:

  • Section 2.2.b Larger Events (page 4): wording changed Re: weddings.
  • Section 2.2.i Face Coverings (pages 5-6): New section on face coverings.
  • Section 4 Frequently Asked Questions (page 11): First question, additional reference to hirers being unable to use the hall because it is closed.
  • Section 5 Finances (page 13): 28th August closing date for RHL grant added.
  • Appendix C (page 21): Point 2 changed Re: Test and Trace. Point 7 added Re: face coverings.
  • Appendix D (pages 24-25): Dates removed under ‘Weddings and wedding receptions’ and ‘Children’s birthday parties’. List of ‘not permitted activities’: singing and playing wind / brass instruments removed; group singing by worshipers in places of worship added.
  • Appendix E (page 27): SC4 clause changed Re: notification and requirement for COVID-19 test. SC17 clause added Re: face coverings.
  • Appendix F: ‘Events’ reference to NRTF guidance replaced with link to Appendix J
  • Appendix J (page 32-33): Date change and information Re: singing and playing wind/brass instruments.
  • Appendix K (page 35): Dates removed

Face Coverings

From 8th August face coverings are required to be worn inside village and community halls. The Department of Health and Social Care has confirmed to ACRE that:

On entering a village hall, you will be required to wear a face covering, and will be required to keep it on, unless you are covered under a ‘reasonable excuse’. This could be for a gym class, if you need to eat or drink something, or if you have a health or disability reason to not wear one”

Exceptions are listed in the updated ACRE Information Sheet (page 5) and further information is available in the Government guidance on face coverings

It is hoped the use of face coverings will further help to prevent the spread of the virus and should be worn at all times unless “undertaking exercise or an activity and it would negatively impact your ability to do so”. ACRE interprets that to mean the obvious activities which would be affected such as singing and physical exercise. For all other activities such as meetings, lectures, craft groups, mother & toddler groups etc. then unless exempt for another reason, participants should wear face coverings, even if it can be awkward at times.

Performances (singing, wind / brass instruments)

As of 15th August the country is at stage 4 of the Government’s roadmap for bringing performing arts back safely: “Performances are allowed indoors and outdoors (but with a limited socially distanced audience indoors)”. Further information is included in the ACRE Information Sheet, Appendix J and the Government guidance for performing arts

This includes: “Both professionals and non-professionals can now engage in singing, wind and brass in line with the performing arts guidance”. However, group singing by worshipers in places of worship is still not permitted.

Social Dancing

The Health Protection (Coronavirus) Regulations 2020 do not allow:

“Dance halls, discotheques, and any other venue which:

  • a) opens at night;
  • b) has a dance floor or other space for dancing by members of the public (and for these purposes members of the venue in question are to be considered members of the public);
  • c) provides music, whether live or recorded, for dancing.”

This will apply in community centres and village halls.

New Visual Guide for Halls

A new, visual reference guide to help those reopening community centres, including village halls, has been published by IF_DO in partnership with ACRE and Clarion Futures.

‘Covid-19 Safer Community Centres’ is a free-to-use guide funded by Innovate UK that sets out clear stages of how to safely reopen community centres and village halls across the UK. Visual diagrams illustrate the spatial adaptations required for hiring and other essential services to recommence as safely as possible. Find out more and download the guide via the ACRE website.

A similar guide for churches ‘COVID-19 Safer Churches’ has been produced with the Church of England.

Retail, Hospitality and Leisure Grant

If your hall hasn’t yet applied for the Retail, Hospitality and Leisure (RHL) Grant, you are advised to do so as soon as possible. The Chancellor has announced that the Business Grants Schemes (including the RHL Grant) will close on 28th August.

Don’t be put off by the name, the majority of village halls are eligible for the £10,000 grant (£25,000 for premises with a rateable value over £15,000) 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 your local council to apply:

Mother and Toddler Groups

There have been a number of queries about Mother and Toddler groups. Where these are organised by an individual and it is a private gathering of mothers, children and babies, they are restricted to 30 people (depending on the size of the hall and what is possible under social distancing measures). This includes the children, but not babes in arms.

Where the group is formally constituted as “a business, a charitable, benevolent or philanthropic institution, a public body, or a political body" then more than 30 can attend subject to the relevant social distancing guidelines for that activity. The Group should in those cases refer to their own national body, the Pre-School Alliance, and not expect the village hall to provide guidance specific to their activity.


The following has been received from The British Wheel of Yoga (BWY):

The BWY has recognised that quite a lot of teachers are using rooms with carpet and so have now provided some options so that classes can still take place in these environments. Our Training Chair has advised the following. Hoovering will remove dirt but not germs, if you have access to a fogging machine this will remove germs. Alternatively, you can spray the carpet with Sursol fabric and upholstery disinfectant or similar and then put a clean cotton or fabric sheet like a bedsheet (which the teachers may ask their students to bring) on top of hoovered carpets and disinfected carpets, and then non slip yoga mats on top which should be ok. This would also all need to be added to the teachers risk assessment”

Risk Assessment – identifying ‘sensible measures’

Again, we’d 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.

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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 online Community Buildings Events, we’re planning another in September. The event will again be followed by smaller discussion workshops to provide an opportunity for discussion and sharing of experience.

Click on the links below to book a place and contact us with questions or ideas for what you would like included in the agenda. The focus will understandably be on re-opening following COVID-19 closure, however if you have other topics you would like us to cover, do get in touch.

Community Buildings Event (presentation with Q&A)

Discussion groups (max. 10 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.

Coronavirus page