Permitted activities in multi-use community facilities: signposting to relevant guidance
Community facilities such as community centres and village halls are used for a wide range of local activities and services – from childcare provision to hosting social and recreational clubs. In line with the government’s recovery roadmap, different activities are subject to specific reviews and guidance on when and how they are permitted to resume. Where a premises delivers a mix of services, only those services that are permitted to be open should be available.
Those managing community facilities, and those using community facilities for the following activities, should take account of the relevant guidance below:
Managers of community facilities will have discretion over when they consider it safe to open for any activity permitted by legislation and may decide to remain closed if they are not able to safely follow the advice in the relevant guidance, to make the space COVID-19 secure.
Many community facilities are also workplaces and so we have to be responsible for the premises as well as any employees, volunteers and Trustees. The government is clear that no one is obliged to work in an unsafe workplace.
Organisations also have a duty of care to volunteers to ensure as far as reasonably practicable they are not exposed to risks to their health and safety and are afforded the same level of protection as employees and the self-employed.
Employees, volunteers and other individuals who are shielding should continue to follow the government’s advice on shielding.
Core principles for safely reopening community facilities
Community facilities are used for a range of purposes, and relevant guidance on specific activities will be addressed by type activity. However, there are general principles that managers of community spaces should follow in making their space COVID-19 secure, and safely re-opening for permitted activity.
Any reopening plans should be consistent with:
• core public health guidance regarding health, hygiene, and social distancing
• safe workplace guidelines, to ensure employees are safe to return to work
Anyone with control of non-domestic premises (such as a community centre, village or community hall) has legal responsibilities under health and safety law, and must take reasonable measures to ensure the premises, access to it, and any equipment or substances provided are safe for people using it, so far as is reasonably practicable.
To help decide which actions to take prior to re-opening the building for permitted activity, a copy of our COVID-19 risk assessment must be read and adhered to, taking account of the core guidance on social distancing and the points set out below. This will be in addition to any risk assessment which is already in place for the community facility.
Users and hirers of a community facility have responsibility for managing risks arising from their own activities when they have control of premises and should take account of any guidance relevant to their specific activity or sector.
We will require copies of your own COVID-19 risk assessments and method statements as to how you intend to record/police visitors and maintain visitor contact details, should they be needed – in advance.
Social distancing and capacity
If you have symptoms of COVID-19, you and your household must isolate at home; wearing a face covering does not change this.
Measures should be in place to ensure all users of community facilities follow the guidelines on social distancing, including strict adherence to social distancing of 2 metres or 1 metre with risk mitigation (where 2 metres is not viable) are acceptable. You should consider and set out the mitigations you will introduce in your risk assessment.
In defining the number of people that can reasonably follow 2 metres distancing (or 1 metre with risk mitigation), the total floor space as well as likely pinch points and busy areas should be taken into account (e.g. entrances, exits) and one-way routes have been introduced.
Users should continue to socially distance from those they do not live with wherever possible.
Users of community facilities should limit their social interactions to 2 households (including support bubbles) in any location; or, if outdoors, potentially up to 6 people from different households.
Premises or locations which are COVID-19 secure may be able to hold more than 30 people, subject to their own capacity limits. We have deemed our capacity limits for the large hall to be a maximum of 30 and for the small hall a maximum of 15 based on the 2m social distancing. This is an extra safeguard and whilst we will allow for family groups or social bubbles to be considered, we are looking to maintain a minimum 2M spacing for both ‘social bubbles and any different social groups. The one exception to this is for wedding ceremonies in the small hall where up to 30 people will be allowed. (26 Guests, 2 x registrars and the bride and groom), where ‘social bubbles’ will assist to facilitate the social distancing.
Where gatherings have more than 30 people, those operating venues should take additional steps to ensure the safety of the public and prevent large gatherings or mass events from taking place. However, we, as a community trust, have agreed that until further notice activities in excess of 30 people will not be permitted.
Please note: At this time, venues should not permit indoor performances, including drama, comedy and music (DJ’s and Karaoke included), to take place in front of a live audience.
Centre managers should also consider what changes might be needed to enable safe access to the building. These may include:
• Making use of multiple exit and entry points:
Main Halls: For any activities, entry will be through the main foyer doors and exit through that room’s fire doors so as to introduce a one-way flow in and out of the premises, with appropriate signage.
The library visitors will enter through the side fire exit and leave via the foyer (again staying to the right). Nursery visitors will use the designated nursery access and will be monitored in accordance with their risk assessment and method statement.
The Conference Rooms numbers will be very limited and controlled and so access and exit will be via the main stair case (or lift for the disabled).
Any changes to entrances, exits and queues should take into account the need to make reasonable adjustments for those who need them, such as people with disabilities.
• Managing the arrival and departure times of different group activities will be addressed as bookings increase so as to reduce the pressure at entrances.
• Queue management: the flow of groups in and out of the premises will be carefully controlled to reduce the risk of congestion. We have looked at introducing socially distanced queuing systems. For example, the library will queue outside the building to the fire door side exit. Similarly, each hall will have a dedicated queue line with the small hall queue being in the main corridor adjacent to the wall whereas the large hall queue will be inside the hall itself on the opposite side of the wall.
• Further lowering capacity – even if it is possible to safely seat a number of people inside a venue, it may not be safe for them all to travel or enter that venue.
• Staggering entry times with other venues and taking steps to avoid queues building up in surrounding areas.
• Closure of Venues Please note that where appropriate, the government has powers under schedule 22 of the Coronavirus Act 2020 to close venues hosting large gatherings or prohibit certain events (or types of event) from taking place, and a power under Regulation 6 of the Health Protection (Coronavirus, Restrictions) (No. 2) (England) Regulations 2020 to restrict access to a public place. This would have implications on our license if we were to try to contravene these measures which is why strict policies need to be adhered to.
All surfaces, especially those most frequently touched, will be cleaned regularly, using standard cleaning products. If we are cleaning after a known or suspected case of COVID-19 then you should refer to the specific guidance. However, we reserve the right to close the hall (or pats of the hall) for 72 hours at very short notice
For disposal of face coverings and other PPE equipment we ask all hall visitors to take them home with them and not use public waste disposal facilities provide on site for other waste materials.
Activity providers must allow sufficient time to clean the areas and surfaces that they plan to use, prior to an event or activity taking place. We are not recruiting any additional cleaning personnel and so our own cleaning regime, for all intense and purposes, as previous with a daily clean. However, door handles and other communal surfaces likely to be touched by the general public will be wiped hourly as an additional precaution.
WC facilities for the general public are not available as these are to be use by employees working in the building, with strict Covid-19 safeguards in place.
External fire doors and windows should be opened to improve ventilation in the premises during all activities. Other measures that will usually be needed are:
• signs and posters to build awareness of good hand washing technique, the need to increase hand washing frequency, advice to avoid touching your face and to cough or sneeze into a tissue which is binned safely, or into your arm if a tissue is not available;
• hand sanitiser units are provide at the entry and exit points so as to encourage visitors too clean their hands on arrival and departure. Additional facilities may also be provided by some hall users
• for general use, toilets (and baby changing facilities) will be locked and available only for staff use or under emergency circumstances. These to ensure they are kept clean and social distancing is achieved as much as possible. For private functions, toilets will be made available but it is the responsibility of the ‘user’ to ensure that surfaces are wiped clean prior to use as we do not have staff on site to clean the facilities after every visit.
• For staff and private functions hand drying facilities in the form of paper towels (disabled facilities) or electrical dryers are available
• bins for staff and customers to throw away general waste is available. However, face coverings and PPE should be taken from the building and discarded safely at home
Hygiene and face coverings
On entering and leaving a community facility everyone, including staff, should be encouraged to wash their hands thoroughly using the hand sanitiser provided in the foyer and by the exit doors.
Face coverings are currently mandatory on public transport, shops and in supermarkets. People are also encouraged to wear face coverings in enclosed public spaces where there are people they do not normally meet.#
Evidence suggests that wearing a face covering does not protect you. However, if you are infected it may provide some protection for others you come into close contact with.
Village Hall employees and volunteers have been asked to wear face masks in communal areas when dealing with hall visitors. This is more of a courtesy and recognising the social demographic of our day to day visitors.
Face coverings do not replace social distancing. Even if a face covering is used, staff and users of the space should continue to wash hands regularly and maintain social distancing. If users of the space choose to wear one, it is important to use face coverings properly and thoroughly wash hands before putting them on and taking them off.
Face coverings should not be used by children under the age of 3 or those who may find it difficult to manage them correctly
You should be prepared to remove your face covering if asked to do so by police officers and staff for the purposes of identification.
We are also mindful that the wearing of a face covering may inhibit communication with some people who rely on lip reading, facial expressions and clear sound. As such, the temporary removal of face coverings may be required in these circumstances
Certain groups of our visitors, including some Trustees, employees and volunteers, are at increased risk of severe disease from coronavirus (COVID-19), including all people aged 70 or over. Such individuals are advised to stay at home as much as possible and, if they do go out, to take particular care to minimise contact with others outside of their household.
Public toilets, portable toilets and toilets inside our premises will remain closed to the general public for the foreseeable future to manage and reduce the risk of transmission of COVID-19 to staff and volunteers – for day to day use.
For private functions and other activities, these will be unlocked and useable, but users are required to take extra precautions.
The disabled toilet is a multi-gender community toilet and may be used by the general public for emergency use only. This is by request. It will remain locked for this reason.
Using signs and posters to build awareness of good hand washing technique, the need to increase hand washing frequency and to avoid touching your face, and to cough or sneeze into a tissue which is binned safely, or into your arm if a tissue is not available.
Consider the use of social distancing marking in areas where queues normally form, and the adoption of a limited entry approach, with one in, one out (whilst avoiding the creation of additional bottlenecks).
To enable good hand hygiene consider making hand sanitiser available where it can be accessed and monitored on entry to the building and where safe and practical, ensure suitable hand washing facilities including running water and liquid soap and hand driers are available.
Setting clear use and cleaning guidance for toilets based on ‘user responsibility’. Use normal cleaning products, paying attention to frequently hand touched surfaces, and consider use of disposable cloths or paper roll to clean all hard surfaces.
Putting up a visible cleaning schedule can keep it up to date and visible.
Providing more waste facilities and more frequent rubbish collection.
All venues should ensure that steps are taken to avoid people needing to unduly raise their voices to each other. This includes – but is not limited to – refraining from playing music or broadcasts that may encourage shouting, including if played at a volume that makes normal conversation difficult. This is because of the potential for increased risk of transmission – particularly from aerosol and droplet transmission.
Similarly, instructors and activity providers should avoid ‘shouting’ towards their ‘audience’ so as to reduce transmission. It is also advisable to allow an extra 1M for social distancing
According to Government Guidelines, rehearsal and training is permitted in Community Halls, where we can meet the COVID-19 secure guidelines but we suggest that a ‘one to one’ meeting is arranged with the Village Hall management to address all concerns and to establish an approved safe regime.
NHS Test and Trace (collecting customer data)
The opening up of the economy following the COVID-19 outbreak is being supported by NHS Test and Trace. As far as the Village Hall is concerned, those booking the venue should assist this service by keeping and providing a temporary record of visitors for 21 days, in a way that is manageable for your business, and assist NHS Test and Trace with requests for that data if needed.
In the event of a COVID-19 result being reported for your activity you must:
Report any potential outbreak to the Village Hall Management team as well as the NHS Test and Trace. We can then:
• liaise with other groups that may be affected in good time for them to pass on contact details of their ‘members’ for the NHS track and trace
• notify staff and volunteers to possibly ‘self-isolate’ for a minimum seven days
• carry out any safeguarding practices as advised by the government for such a situations
• possibly close the hall (or parts of the hall) at short notice for a minimum of 72 hours so as to enable the virus on surfaces to become non-contagious
• carryout an additional ‘deep clean’ to surfaces most likely to be affected
Service providers that use the hall must have their own systems for recording their customers and visitors. The Village Hall will only record the contact details of the core service provider(s). Please note, details must be retained for a minimum of 21 days but GDPR regulations must be adhered to.
Early years and youth provision
Community facilities which serve as premises for early years provision and childcare have been allowed to open for this purpose from 1 June. Providers of these services in community facilities are already following the relevant government guidance:
Community facilities can open for the provision of other services for children and young people. Where activities relate to children between the ages of 5-18, they should follow the DfE guidance on protective measures for out-of-school settings.
Voluntary sector and other service provision
Community facilities are currently able to open for essential voluntary activities and urgent public services, such as food banks, homeless services, and blood donation sessions. Any provision should be conducted in line with the core principles of social distancing and shielding for clinically vulnerable people set out above.
Recreation, leisure and social gatherings
Clubs or groups that use community facilities can begin to meet again and facility managers should follow these COVID-19 secure guidelines to facilitate that.
Premises or locations which are COVID-19 secure will be able to hold more than 30 people, subject to their own capacity limits, although any individual groups should not interact with anyone outside of the group they are attending the venue with – so in a group no larger than 2 households or 6 people if outdoors. At the moment we have introduced our own guidelines per hall to ensure social distancing is maintained
Clubs and Groups
People meeting in a club or group context at a community centre should be encouraged to socially distance from anyone they do not live with or who is not in their support bubble. In general, people are being advised to only:
• meet indoors in groups of up to 2 households
• meet outdoors in a group of no more than 2 households (including your support bubble) or in a group of up to 6 people from different households.
For this reason, we are recognising that our art groups, luncheon clubs, over 55’s groups, toddler group and quilting clubs will continue to remain closed until further guidance is provided.
Specialist organisations such as Slimming World and Weight Watchers we will permit to open as they are run professionally and will follow government guidance.
Weddings and Civil Ceremonies
At present, legally-valid ceremonies or formations are strongly advised to go ahead only where they can be done in a COVID-19 secure environment. It is also advised that the ceremonies are kept as short as reasonably possible and limited as far as possible to the parts of the ceremonies that are required in order for the marriage or civil partnership to be legally binding.
No more than 30 people should attend a marriage or civil partnership, where this can be safely accommodated with social distancing in a COVID-19 secure venue.
Large wedding receptions or parties should not currently be taking place and any celebration after the ceremony should follow the broader social distancing guidance of involving no more than two households in any location or, if outdoors, up to six people from different households.
From 1 August, small wedding receptions will be able to take place – this means sit-down meals for no more than 30 people, subject to COVID-19 Secure guidance.
Community facilities should not permit indoor performances, including drama, comedy and music, to take place in front of a live audience.
This is important to mitigate the risks of droplets and aerosol transmission – from either the performer(s) or their audience. Venues should take account of the performing arts guidance in organising outdoor performances.
Singing and wind and brass playing should be limited to professional contexts only.
Sporting and Training Activities
Indoor sporting facilities, fitness centres and dance studios will be open. For people wishing to provide such activities, please follow these guidelines
• Social distancing should be maintained between all users of facilities including individuals, groups, teams, teachers, trainers and coaches unless users come from the same household or to manage needs on account of a disability when additional mitigation will be essential.
• Areas should be marked out and classes limited to a maximum of 30 for the large hall and 15 for the small hall.
• Arrival should be no greater than five minutes prior to the activity starting and prompt exiting is required on completion. Visitors should be dressed accordingly so as to avoid the need to change on site. The use of hand towels should be avoided.
• All visitors should use the hand sanitiser provided on entry and exit.
• When queueing, designated areas will be established for each of the two halls. The small hall queue should be down the main corridor and for the large hall, inside the room itself. Access and entry points should be clearly highlighted.
• There will be a one way system in operation with entry through the foyer and exit through the double doors to the rear of each of the halls.
• Visitors are encouraged to either pre-pay by bacs or to put the correct amount of money into an envelope to avoid cash transactions.
• Names and contact details for every visitor must be recorded by the activity provider for every event and retained for 21 days minimum. This is for NHS Track and Trace purposes.
• There are no refreshment or public convenience facilities available on site until further notice. This includes changing facilities for infants and babies. Activity providers may want to set up a designated changing area in their own hall, but these must be cleaned before and after use and all waste removed from site.
• All external doors and windows are to be kept open throughout the duration of the activity so as to provide maximum ventilation.
• Any associated equipment brought onto site must be for personal use only (mats etc.) and be removed on completion. Avoid using shared equipment such as balls, weights, kick box guards etc.
• Where any hall equipment is used (tables or chairs etc.) these must be cleaned by the user/hall activity provider prior to use and on completion
• Instructors should avoid shouting and be a minimum of 3m away from visitors to prevent contagion. It is also stated that the use of loud music should be avoided where it requires people to shout to be heard.
• Where classes coincide, we reserve the right to stagger start times so as to avoid overcrowding in key areas.
Child Care Activities
Where activities relate to children and young people between the ages of 5-18, they should follow the DfE guidance on protective measures for out-of-school settings. This is relevant for providers running holiday clubs, after-school clubs, tuition or other out-of-school provision, including sports-related or dance activities.
For other mother and parent activities, the guidance on Sporting and Training activities will be adopted. However, for the short term our Toddler Group will not be running until further notice
Meetings and civic functions
We continue to recommend that where meetings can take place digitally without the need for face-to-face contact, they should continue to do so. Where community facilities need to be used for physical meetings, these meetings should be managed within the social distancing guidance and principles.
The principles set out in the ‘Safer workplaces’ guidance apply, including but not limited to:
• meetings of civic, political or community groups (e.g. parish council meeting, ward meeting of political party; charity board of trustees)
• MP or councillor surgery/drop-in sessions. The government is discouraging unnecessary physical attendance at meetings. Where necessary to take place physically, participants should maintain 2 metres (or 1 metre with risk mitigation) separation throughout
• public meetings and local consultations (e.g. planning)
• Business meetings. We will ensure that social distancing is available for any business meetings booked and all contact information must be kept/recorded by the event organiser
Local authorities in England have some powers to hold public meetings virtually by using video or telephone conferencing technology.
In the first instance, the Village Hall Management has the authority to close any activity with minimum or no advance notice (without penalty) as a result of the following:
• We have a reported incident relating to COVID-19 in any part of the building prior to your event or activity which could impact on the safety of all hall users
• You fail or your members fail to follow any of the above guidelines on social distancing, queuing, ventilation, personal hygiene, access or entry.
• Numbers are in excess of what we deem to be safe in accordance to the room sizes available
In addition to this, where the enforcing authority, such as the HSE or your local authority, identifies employers and building operators who are not taking action to comply with the relevant public health legislation and guidance to control public health risks, they are empowered to take a range of actions to improve control of workplace risks. For example, this would cover employers and building operators not taking appropriate action to ensure social distancing, where possible.
Failure to complete a risk assessment which takes account of COVID-19, or completing a risk assessment but failing to put in place sufficient measures to manage the risk of COVID-19, could constitute a breach of health and safety law.
The actions the enforcing authority can take include the provision of specific advice to employers and building operators to support them to achieve the required standard, through to issuing enforcement notices to help secure improvements. Serious breaches and failure to comply with enforcement notices can constitute a criminal offence, with serious fines and even imprisonment for up to 2 years.
There is also a wider system of enforcement, which includes specific obligations and conditions for licensed premises.
Employers and building operators are expected to respond to any advice or notices issued by enforcing authorities rapidly and are required to do so within any timescales imposed by the enforcing authorities. The vast majority of employers and building operators are responsible and will join with the UK’s fight against COVID-19 by working with the government and their sector bodies to protect their workers and the public. However, inspectors are carrying out compliance checks nationwide to ensure that employers and building operators are taking the necessary steps.