COVID-19

CHANGES TO GOVERNMENT RULES
COVERING THE HIRING OF COMMUNITY FACILITIES

September 2020
(David Kett 20/09/20)

1. Introduction

These notes are based mainly on ACRE guidance (Information Sheet 6) dated 18 September 2020 which updated guidance published on 17 August 2020.

The main changes since the work carried out in July / August involve:

  • the new group limit of six
  • government guidance on encouraging activities to improve the wellbeing of individuals - including indoor exercise
  • the duty to keep list of attendees and follow government advice for their activity
  • the requirement to wear face coverings - added to WVCA Risk Assessment

At the end of this paper is a chart, adapted from the ACRE information sheet, which suggests how different events may be organised.

2. Groups of six

The limit of 30 attendees without additional mitigation has gone (it now only exists for seated weddings and funerals). The size of the room determines the number who can be in the room and they may form themselves into groups. However, individual groups should not exceed six persons. Organised sport / exercise classes are exempt from this rule (see 3.2.4 below).

Government guidelines on community facilities section 2a state: "Community facilities following COVID-19 secure guidelines can host more than six people in total, but no one should visit or socialise in a group of greater than six".

Hence based on its size, in the main hall we can have 32 persons and they can comprise four groups of 6 + two groups of 3 + one group of 2.

Each group can socialise together in an activity (e.g. flower arranging) and they can come from the same household or different households. However, each group should be kept two metres apart and mingling between the groups is not allowed. Activities that might result in mingling are not allowed.

[The limit of six is waived if a household group is larger than six or is a "linked household" (i.e. one adult plus children from another household) - such groups are known as qualifying groups.]

Group limits do not stop individuals greeting one another / chatting but members must not join another group or table.

3. Government encouragement for activities in community settings

The ACRE document indicates that Government guidance is to encourage activities such as WI and choirs which are important for the wellbeing of individuals.  The paper lists activities in three lists:

  • Group 1 - permitted activities
  • Group 2 - activities requiring more careful organisation
  • Group 3 - not permitted activities

3.1. Permitted activities

3.1.1. Retail activities - indoor markets, craft fayres, xmas fayres (must comply with Government guidelines for the retail sector (Guidance for Community Shops and Indoor Markets https://www.gov.uk/guidance/working-safely-during-coronavirus-covid-19/shops-and-branches

3.1.2. Meetings - e.g. art classes, history groups, weight loss groups may take place in large halls.

3.1.3. Libraries / book clubs - users should be asked to clean hands on arrival and returned books should be quarantined (placed in a box) for 72 hours.

3.2. Activities requiring more careful organisation

3.2.1. Coffee morning / luncheon clubs - these may take place inside with tables of up to six, socially distanced. With older groups, it might be worth considering having tables of fewer than six. (Consult government advice for pubs and cafes.)

3.2.2. Playing games - card tables are small and the English Bridge Union has advised bridge clubs not to reopen. Informal local groups using larger tables may play but cards would require regular cleaning. With games like Scrabble, etc the tiles would have to be constantly cleaned.

3.2.3. Gardening clubs, film clubs, bingo, quiz nights - may take place but careful consideration has to be given to plan for social distancing.

3.2.4. Organised exercise and sport - Yoga, keep fit, dancing classes - are permitted but should take place in accordance with the guidance laid down by the relevant governing body for the individual activity. [See ACRE Appendix K]

Government guidance can be found at this link:

https://www.gov.uk/guidance/working-safely-during-coronavirus-covid-19/providers-of-grassroots-sport-and-gym-leisure-facilities

The usual social distancing requirements between individuals from different households normally apply but there is an exception from the limit of 6 for groups for organised sports and exercise classes. Instead, where required, the number of people each person has contact with should be reduced by using "fixed teams or partnering" or creating distinct groups which always work together. (This exception does not cover informal exercise groups.)

Key points for WVCA to consider:

  • Ensure organisers comply with relevant governing body procedures - hirer's declaration following induction has been amended to cover this.
  • Instructors running classes / clubs in several venues - check how instructors will prevent the transmitting of the virus from one venue to another.
  • Payment - cash payment should be avoided
  • Equipment - attendees should be encouraged to bring their own.
  • Dance and exercise - temporary floor marking (chalk) could encourage social distancing
  • High intensity exercise activity (e.g. Zumba) - 100% fresh air is required and more space per person - 9.29 sq m (100 sq feet) per person?

3.2.5 Performance rehearsals A village hall which has undertaken a COVID-19 risk assessment and is following the steps identified to minimise transmission should satisfy most points in the Government guidance for performance, the full text of which is contained at: https://www.gov.uk/guidance/working-safely-during-coronavirus-covid-19/performing-arts

The Department of Culture Media and Sport (DCMS) has developed a five-stage roadmap to bring performing arts back safely, and Stage One relates to Rehearsal and training (no audiences) which is now permitted.

Children's entertainers

Whilst children's parties are permitted, the ACRE Guidance recommends against such events because of the difficulty of keeping groups of six from mingling.

The document, however suggests that children's entertainers will have plans to manage social distancing and hand washing and might be a good option for organised children's events (e.g. half term; children's party; in place of panto.)

[See Appendix J of ACRE Info sheet]

3.3 Non permitted activities
Wakes - difficult to prevent mingling
Dances and discos

4 Supplementary Conditions of Hire and Risk Assessments

The WVCA Supplementary Conditions of Hire (SC4, SC6, SC8, SC9), the WVCA COVID-19 Risk Assessment and the WVCA Hall Users COVID-19 Risk Assessment have been amended to reflect the new rules on groups of 6 and the requirement to record and retain a list of attendees.

Examples of how events may be organised under the rules of 6 and use of face coverings. (Adapted from CRE Info Sheet 6)

Activity/event How event may be organised When face coverings may be removed (other than special exemptions)
Craft group Attendees usually attend individually or in pairs. They do not live in the same household and are in a vulnerable age group of over 70. They can choose:
  • Sit side by side 1-2m apart
  • Sit in a group of up to 6 on a large table - tables distanced 2m apart
  • For refreshments (taken when seated)
  • On safety grounds if glasses steam up (scissors etc)
Quiz/Bingo Most attend in families or friendship groups.
  • Best to have a prior booking system
  • Family groups can be closely seated on tables of up to 6.
  • Friends of up to groups of 6 can be seated socially distanced on larger tables
  • Groups MUST NOT MINGLE
  • Consider how to avoid problem with pinch points (e.g. toilets)
  • For refreshments (taken when seated)
Art class
  • Attendees can be organised into groups of up to 6 (e.g.2 x6; 3 x 4; 2 x 2) - socially distanced
  • Groups should be 2m apart
  • Members of each group can chat and move within the group but NOT mingle with other groups
  • The "teacher" is deemed to be at work so may interact with each group and does not count towards the size of any group, but should pay attention to social distancing
  • For refreshments (taken when seated)
  • If glasses steam up (interferes with the activity)
Meetings/talks
  • Seats may be placed forward facing in rows
  • Each group (max 6) separated by 4 empty seats
  • Gangways of 2m between the rows
  • Attendees will need to be helped to take their seat (prior booking would help)
  • For refreshments (taken when seated)
  • Speaker may remove mask for clarity
Film show
  • As for meetings or talks but consider a number of showings
  • Face covering can be removed during showing and replaced before leaving!!
Coffee morning
  • Set up tables of 6, socially distanced where attendees can chat (members from one household can sit closely)
  • Allocate attendees to grouped tables
  • Inform attendees on arrival that they cannot mingle between the groups / tables
  • For refreshments (taken when seated)
Wedding reception
  • Up to 30 can attend a seated reception and the rule on groups of 6 does not apply
  • Bride and groom exempt
  • Removed for the meal