by Phillip Vincent, ACRE
National charity, Action with Communities in Rural England (ACRE) has published updated information to help village halls reopen in light of new government guidance.
Since 4 July, England’s 10,000+ village halls have been allowed to reopen. But government rules on social distancing, as well as the activities that are permitted to take place in these community buildings are complicated and frequently changing.
Many village halls are run by local volunteers, most of whom are not familiar with interpreting complex legal guidance. Thankfully, help has been on hand from a network of county-based village halls advisers, including our CBAS Advisor Kate, who have been able to explain the new rules using information sheets prepared by ACRE.
The charity first published information to help village halls reopen in June and was met with an overwhelmingly appreciative response. However, at the time it was not clear what sports and performances would be allowed by the government, as well as requirements relating to the numbers of people that could gather in these premises. ACRE sought clarity on many of the questions raised by village halls committees with government officials.
Version 4 of the Re-opening Information Sheet for Village Halls has been issued 20.07.20, to reflect the Government information at 20th July and anticipates changes at 25th July and 1st August. The changes mainly reflect the Government guidance around the opening of performance and sport venues, which are reflected in revision of Appendix D (Management of Social Distancing – a risk based Approach) and new appendices J and K, which summarise key points as they are most likely to affect village halls and similar facilities, such as allowing yoga, keep fit, rehearsals and live performances.
Social distancing has been a common cause of confusion and updated Government guidance for individuals was released on 18th July, including specific guidance that seated wedding receptions for up to 30 are permitted from 1st August. Further guidance about social distancing is given at the end of Appendix D, rather than in Section 2.2, and we hope this clarifies where responsibility lies. There are consequential tweaks to the Special Conditions of Hire (i.e. to the reference on social distancing, to remove the ban on performances, add an optional condition on compliance with any governing sport guidance). Other changes to Appendix D answer common queries e.g. about hiring for children’s parties, children’s entertainers, toddler groups, games. ACRE’s aim is that as further easing of lockdown takes place further changes to the Information Sheet are likely to primarily be in Appendix D, which should be easier for everyone to keep up with.
Download the guidance
Sample Risk Assessment for Hirers Updated 20.07.20