Photo: Government advice on Coronavirus

Coronavirus (COVID-19), Communities and Community Buildings - updated 03 April 2020

3rd April 2020

This article contains information on: general guidance; social distancing and stay at home guidance; advice for village halls; advice for community groups; community response and volunteering; protecting the isolated & vulnerable; Cumbria Response Fund and other funding available.

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.

Subscribe to email alerts for your area at:


A coronavirus is a type of virus. As a group, coronaviruses are common across the world. Novel coronavirus (COVID-19) is a new strain of coronavirus first identified in Wuhan City, China. The most common symptoms of coronavirus (COVID-19) are a new continuous cough and/or high temperature. Generally, coronavirus can cause more severe symptoms in people with weakened immune systems, older people, and those with long-term conditions like diabetes, cancer and chronic lung disease. The NHS website has more information about how coronavirus is spread and answers common questions about the virus.

Stay At Home

  • Only go outside for food, health reasons or work (but only if you cannot work from home)
  • Stay 2 metres (6 ft) away from other people
  • Wash your hands as soon as you get home

General Guidance

Common sense is key in a situation like this and there are things you can do to help stop germs like coronavirus spreading:

  • Wash your hands more often than usual, for 20 seconds using soap and hot water, particularly after coughing, sneezing and blowing your nose, or after being in public areas. Use hand sanitiser if that’s all you have access to.
  • To reduce the spread of germs when you cough or sneeze, cover your mouth and nose with a tissue, or your sleeve (not your hands) if you don’t have a tissue, and throw the tissue away immediately. Then wash your hands or use a hand sanitising gel.
  • Clean and disinfect regularly touched objects and surfaces using your regular cleaning products to reduce the risk of passing the infection on to other people

Further information available at:
Government guidance on Coronavirus
NHS advice on reducing risk

Staying at home and away from others (social distancing)

The single most important action we can all take in fighting coronavirus is to stay at home in order to protect the NHS and save lives. When we reduce our day-to-day contact with other people, we will reduce the spread of the infection. That is why the Government has introduced three new measures:

  1. Requiring people to stay at home, except for very limited purposes
  2. Closing certain businesses and venues
  3. Stopping all gatherings of more than two people in public

These measures must be followed by everyone. Separate advice is available for Households with possible coronavirus COVID-19 infection and for the most vulnerable who need to be shielded.

Full Government guidance on staying at home and away from others

Households with possible coronavirus (COVID-19) infection

The most common symptoms of coronavirus (COVID-19) are recent onset of: new continuous cough and / or high temperature. For most people, coronavirus (COVID-19) will be a mild illness.

Key messages

  • If you have symptoms of coronavirus (COVID-19), you’ll need to stay at home for 7 days.
  • If you live with someone who has symptoms, you’ll need to stay at home for 14 days from the day the first person in the home started having symptoms.
  • For anyone else in the household who starts displaying symptoms, they need to stay at home for 7 days from when the symptoms appeared, regardless of what day they are on in the original 14-day isolation period.
  • If you live with someone who is 70 or over, has a long-term condition, is pregnant or has a weakened immune system, try to find somewhere else for them to stay for 14 days.
  • If you have to stay at home together, try to keep away from each other as much as possible.
  • If you have coronavirus symptoms do not go to a GP surgery, pharmacy or hospital. You do not need to contact 111 to tell them you’re staying at home. Testing for coronavirus is not needed if you’re staying at home.
  • Plan ahead and ask others for help to ensure that you can successfully stay at home and consider what can be done for vulnerable people in the household.
  • Ask your employer, friends and family to help you to get the things you need to stay at home.
  • Wash your hands regularly for 20 seconds, with soap and water, or use hand sanitiser.
  • If you feel you cannot cope with your symptoms at home, or your condition gets worse, or your symptoms do not get better after 7 days, then use the NHS 111 online Coronavirus service. If you do not have internet access, call NHS 111. For a medical emergency dial 999.

Full Government guidance for households with possible coronavirus COVID-19 infection

Shielding and protecting extremely vulnerable people

This guidance is for people, including children, who are at very high risk of severe illness from coronavirus (COVID-19) because of an underlying health condition, and for their family, friends and carers. The NHS in England is directly contacting people with these conditions to provide further advice.

Shielding is a measure to protect extremely vulnerable people by minimising interaction between those who are extremely vulnerable and others. This means that those who are extremely vulnerable should not leave their homes, and within their homes should minimise all non-essential contact with other members of their household. This is to protect those who are at very high risk of severe illness from coronavirus (COVID-19) from coming into contact with the virus.

Full Government guidance on shielding and protecting vulnerable people from COVID-19

Village Halls & Community Buildings

Village Hall Management Committees running charitable halls must act in the best interest of the hall charity and have a duty of care in providing a safe facility for the community to use.

Join the Cumbria Village Halls Network on Facebook @CumbriaVHN to keep in touch with other halls. This is a private group for village hall volunteers in Cumbria.

Previous guidance on social distancing has already led many hirers to cancel / postpone bookings. However, following the Government announcement on further social distancing measures, including measures to close entertainment, hospitality and indoor leisure facilities, most halls have now closed. Some remain open for the provision of essential services, in which case precautions must be taken:

Precautions include:

  • Take notice of the Government and Public Health England websites and keep up to date with the ongoing situation.
  • Visitors to the hall must keep at least 2m (6ft) distance away from each other – if need be mark this distance out so it clear to everyone, especially if you have a queuing system in place.
  • Adopt a ‘one in one out’ policy
  • Keep the Hall very clean and ensure that hand washing facilities, soap and/or hand sanitiser are available, paper towels (not hand towels) are available and hand driers are working efficiently. Government cleaning guidance
  • Encourage everyone to wash / sanitise their hands regularly and put up notices: NHS hand cleaning, Public Health England posters
  • Advise visitors that they are expected to act responsibly and take notice of Government and Public Health England advice which includes who is and isn’t allowed to be in public spaces.

Regarding cancellation of bookings, follow the steps in the hall hire agreement and conditions of hire and contact your insurance company to discuss what may be covered under your policy regarding cancellation of events due to the hall having to close.

Norris & Fisher Insurance Brokers Ltd.

Updated guidance from 25 March and visit the Norris & Fisher website

Allied Westminster Insurance Services Ltd.


Village Hall business continuity:

  • Keep up to date with the latest Government and Charity Commission guidance
  • Plan for trustees to take on additional responsibilities in the event of others being unwell or self-isolated, e.g. Chairperson; Treasurer; Signatories; Keyholder; Bookings secretary etc.
  • Do not hold face to face meetings; consider alternatives e.g. Skype. WhatsApp, Facetime.
  • Review existing hire agreements and consider the financial impact of cancellation of bookings and hall closure.
  • Speak to your funders about the possible impact of cancelling or delaying project activities which are part of funding agreements.
  • If still open for provision of essential services, plan for how the hall will be cleaned / maintained in the event of the cleaner / caretaker being unwell or self-isolated.
  • If closed, plan for regular checks to keep the building safe and secure e.g. flushing pipes to minimise the risk of Legionnaires’ disease. Take advice from your insurer and check requirements of your policy.

ACRE (Action with Communities in Rural England)

Thousands of village halls will be temporarily closing their doors to the communities they have supported, with uncertainly about when they will be open again. Visit: to find out what ACRE is doing to help.

Business Rate Relief

The ‘Expanded Retail Discount Relief’, or extension of Business Rates relief, applies to charitable halls and CASCs, meaning you should receive 100% rate relief this year. Details in the Government guidance (In case of queries by local authorities: Clause 7 and 12 (ii) of the guidance collectively apply, the reference to the Local Govt Act 1988, section 47 is to their power to grant discretionary relief. The Government will reimburse local authorities for the discretionary relief.)

Retail, Hospitality and Leisure Grant Fund (RHLGF)

£10,000 for premises with a rateable value of up to £15,000 and £25,000 for premises with a rateable value over £15,000 and less than £51,000. Find your rateable value at the VAO website.

Initial guidance inadvertently excluded from support those charities already in receipt of full discretionary rate relief. Section 24 in Version 3 of the Government guidance on business and support grant funding issued on 1st April, has clarified that charities already in receipt of full discretionary relief are eligible for RHLG.

Further information, including why a Local Authority may say a hall is not eligible can be found in the ACRE guidance

Building / Maintenance Work

The Construction Leadership Council have published guidance for the construction sector during COVID-19, which has been endorsed by Government. If you have building work in progress at your hall or plan to use the closure period to complete maintenance work, this is the guidance contractors need to be following:

Music Licensing

Guidance about PRS/PPL fees during this time:

Childcare settings (nurseries, pre-schools, afterschool clubs)

Government has published new guidance for: Early Years and Childcare Settings

The Charity Commission has issued guidance for charities during the coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak and has general guidance on charities and risk management

The Government has issued guidance for employers and businesses

Community Groups

Events and activities are being postponed or cancelled following the latest guidance on staying at home and social distancing.

  • Check cancellation policies for venue bookings.
  • For formal meetings such as an AGM, refer to your organisation’s governing document to see what it says about remote participation and quorum.
  • Consider electronic alternatives such as Skype, WhatsApp, Facetime.
  • Keep up to date with the latest Government and Charity Commission guidance

Useful links:

The NCVO has taken down the paywall on all of their member-only advice & guidance: It’s free to all charities while the crisis continues. No sign-in needed. The NCVO is also offering a range of free or subsidised support for members.

The Small Charities Coalition has a dedicated section about Covid-19 on its website:

The Civil Society also has some information on what charities need to know:

The Fundraising Regulator has advice: about events

The Institute of Fundraising has information for fundraisers.

Community Response & Volunteering

Many people are looking to help others in their community at this difficult time, and much can be achieved by encouraging individuals to support their neighbours.

      Free Public Liability Insurance for groups

      Cumbria Neighbourhood Watch has organised free Public Liability Insurance for groups involved in COVID-19 community support. Groups need to register with Neighbourhood Watch, have a Community Emergency Plan and Risk Assessment.

      Further details and template documents are available at ACT’s Community Emergency Planning page.

      Support Cumbria

      Vulnerable people and elderly people in your community who are staying at home, self-isolating or shielding may need the support of volunteers - could you help? is a collaboration of agencies and communities across Cumbria to offer volunteering support at a community level. They are looking for volunteers of all levels. You might have specific skills to offer or may want to help with tasks like shopping, dog walking, collecting prescriptions and other help.

      Help identify the community support available in your area by registering your voluntary and community support group. This will help the agencies behind Support Cumbria to link volunteers and local groups and ensure we have the right support options in each district for people in need.

      For more information and to register as a volunteer or volunteer group visit:

      Eden Project Communities

      The Eden Project Communities and partners have launched the Community Action Response to encourage everyone to do what they can to support their communities, and particularly vulnerable and isolated people during the Covid-19 crisis. Download the Poster.

      Key Messages:

      • Think of others, consider your actions and be kind
      • Connect and reach out to your neighbours
      • Make the most of local online groups
      • Support vulnerable or isolated people
      • Share accurate information and advice

      Protecting the Isolated and Vulnerable

      Cumbria Emergency Support Helpline – Tel: 0800 783 1966

      For vulnerable people at high risk of becoming seriously ill as a result of COVID-19, who do not have support available from friends, family or neighbours and are struggling for food, medicines or other essential supplies. Open Monday to Friday 9am – 5pm, and Weekends 10am – 2pm.

      Further details and online support request form at:

      Safeguarding Concerns

      If you are concerned that an adult is at risk of abuse or neglect please call:

      • Copeland and Allerdale 0300 303 3589
      • Carlisle and Eden 0300 303 3249
      • Furness and South Lakes 0300 3032704
      • Out of House 01228 526690
      • In an emergency call 999

      To report concerns about a child, visit:

      Neighbourhood Watch has produced guidance on protecting the isolated and vulnerable

      Age UK has produced guidance on practical ways to help older people

      Full Government guidance on shielding and protecting vulnerable people from COVID-19

      Cumbria COVID-19 Response Fund

      People are already giving generously to a Cumbria COVID-19 Fund set up by Cumbria Community Foundation. The Fund offers local charitable and community organisations funding to support emerging challenges faced within local communities as a result of the continuing threat of coronavirus.

      How to Apply:

      For details visit:

      Cumbria CVS have staff who can provide support if a group needs help to apply:

      How to Donate:

      The Foundation is aware that many people and businesses will be struggling financially, however, for those that are able and would like to donate to the Fund, they can Donate online or by Phone: 01900 825760.

      Other grant funding

      Charities Aid Foundation (CAF) Coronavirus Emergency Fund

      To help smaller charitable organisations affected by the impact of Covid-19. Grants of up to £10,000 are available to help them continue to deliver much needed support to our communities across the UK. Intended as a rapid response fund, grants will be paid to selected organisations within 14 days of application. Visit:

      Prince’s Countryside Fund Rural Response Emergency Grants Programme

      The Prince’s Countryside Fund is inviting applications for emergency funding from farming and rural community support groups, who are providing assistance to counter the effects of isolation during the Coronavirus pandemic. With thanks to Players of People’s Postcode Lottery, groups can apply for grant funding of up to £2,500 if they: are providing emergency relief to vulnerable or isolated individuals or; are providing support to farmers and farm businesses affected by the Coronavirus pandemic or; are helping rural or farming communities to cope with the Coronavirus pandemic.


      The National Lottery Community Fund – Coronavirus Updates

      For details of how the National Lottery Community Fund has been reviewed and the latest information about grants available visit:

      Coronavirus page