Opening your community building after lockdown
Covid-19 guidance for community halls and centres
This is our page of covid-19 guidance for the charity trustees and staff of community buildings. For our community buildings guidance home page please click here.
Omicron Hospitality and Leisure Grants
The Government has announced new round of grants for the hospitality and leisure sector. As with previous rounds, community halls and centres are eligible as long as they have a rateable value and are registered with their local council. For church halls and other venues which aren’t in the business rates system, the Additional Restrictions Grant scheme is open again and we urge you to contact your local council’s business support team as soon as possible. Please see the briefing below:
Further restrictions announced on 8 December
On Wednesday 8 December Prime Minister Boris Johnson announced further restrictions to reduce the spread of the covid-19 omicron variant. Community centres and halls have been added to the list of venues where face coverings must be worn ‘unless you are exempt or have a reasonable excuse’.
Please see the Government guidance. For the general picture, including details about vaccination, testing, and self-isolation – please click here. A guidance booklet specifically for community halls and centres can be found further down the page.
As with previous restrictions, the face covering requirement will not apply in part of a community building that is currently being used for activities which are exempt from the requirement. Such activities include sport / exercise, dancing, and hospitality (full list here). Singing is also a ‘reasonable excuse’ for not wearing a face covering, in certain circumstances – guidance here.
Rules for staff
Underneath the list of venues where face coverings are compulsory, it says staff in these settings ‘are required to wear face coverings when they are in a part that is open to the public and when they are likely to come into close contact with members of the public’. So community centre staff aren’t required to wear a face covering while in their office, although it notes they can if they wish to and ‘businesses are encouraged to support them’ in this.
Who is exempt?
In addition to the exemptions for certain activities and venues, certain groups of people are exempt from wearing a face covering at all. These are:
- children under the age of 11 (The UK Health Security Agency does not recommend face coverings for children under the age of 3 for health and safety reasons)
- people who cannot put on, wear or remove a face covering because of a physical or mental illness or impairment, or disability
- people for whom putting on, wearing or removing a face covering will cause severe distress
- people speaking to or providing assistance to someone who relies on lip reading, clear sound or facial expressions to communicate
- to avoid the risk of harm or injury to yourself or others
- police officers and other emergency workers, given that this may interfere with their ability to serve the public
Revised guidance from ACRE, our national partner charity
ACRE issued a briefing on 16 December covering the new restrictions. Download the new guidance below:
Appendix C – Dec 2021 (revised poster of covid-secure precautions)
Appendix E – Dec 2021 (revised special conditions of hire, replacing the version in the information below)
These documents are all available to download from ACRE’s website so you can print and use them as you see fit.
You might also like to consult the Government’s guidance on improving ventilation – click here.
We are leaving the larger ACRE guidance booklet from July on this page for the time being as a reference.
Step 4 of the Government’s roadmap – from Monday 19 July
We have now moved into Step 4 of the Government’s roadmap of easing the pandemic restrictions. This means most legal restrictions have been lifted – for full details of the general picture see the Government guidance.
Re-opening After Lockdown guidance updated
ACRE, our national partner charity, has updated its Re-opening After Lockdown information sheet. Download it, along with Word versions of the appendices (including a risk assessment template for you as the building manager, and for your hirers) from the links below.
If you would like PDF versions of any of the appendices, they can be downloaded from ACRE’s website.
We’ve had several questions around refusing admission to people who have not been vaccinated, once they’ve had the opportunity. This is very much a live issue and we don’t have definitive answers, but a recent news bulletin from Acas contained some useful pointers – at this link.
Financial forecasting template spreadsheets
To help you plan for the future and see what impact the pandemic is likely to have on your organisation’s finances going forward, here are two template spreadsheets you can use:
Financial forecasting template spreadsheets (zip folder)
A visual guide to making community buildings safe
It’s great to see Wickham Community Centre being used as a case study in this guide, so thanks to Centre Manager Kate English for her valuable contribution.
The multi-purpose community facilities guidance was last updated on 17 May so it does not reflect the current situation.
The home page for all the Government guidance and information on the pandemic is below
Visit > https://www.gov.uk/coronavirus
General guidance for charities
The Charity Commission has a page for guidance on charity meetings, financial issues and other topics.
More information > Charity Commission covid-19 guidance
Financial support for community buildings
The furlough scheme is due to run until the end of September.
More information > Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme (furlough)
Suppport for organisations with premises
The Government has given financial support to most organisations that operate premises, including community centres and halls. These are now closed but any further news will be added here.
Comments, queries, and further support
We gratefully acknowledge ACRE’s tireless work in preparing this guidance document, and all the other resources they supply for community halls and centres.
Please see Specialist resources for community buildings for details of these other documents and how to access them. Action Hampshire can help in other ways too – with regular news bulletins and a membership offer.
Please contact Kevin Sawers (by email or on 01962 857358) with any queries. You can also contact Kevin if you would like to join our online discussion forum, where you can raise queries and share ideas with over 190 community hall / centre managers and trustees.
We use the Basecamp system – see this short guide and video for more info.