An update for village halls on the government’s ‘Plan B’ Covid restrictions

This update is provided by our national body Action with Communities in Rural England (ACRE).

ACRE will fully review its advice to Village Halls at the beginning of week commencing 13th December. In the meantime, this brief update seeks to keep pace with the initial changes that have followed Government’s announcement of a move to Plan B.

Government announced the tightening of selected Regulations, on the 8th December. The first of these to come into law relates to face coverings. These changes were introduced to Parliament on 9th December and became law on 10th December.

Face coverings
Community Centres (Village Halls) are now explicitly included in the list of places where face coverings must be worn unless the individual has an exemption. The responsibility is the individual’s not the building owner or organiser of an activity.

Although poorly drafted in respect of Community Centres (Village Halls) a requirement to put up signs telling people they must wear face coverings is a requirement of the regulations. As worded this could be read as applying to the organiser of an activity, however it would be safest to take this this to mean the people or persons responsible for the building. In the case of Village Halls this will either be the Trustees or the Manager.

The Regulations permit the removal of face masks for singing in the following situations: as part of a choir, service, performance or rehearsal for a performance.

Nest steps in Plan B
The overall intention of Plan B for village and community halls is explained in the following extract from the government general public announcement. As previously, references to theatres, cinemas etc can be regarded as referring to plays, pantos and films.

“From Friday 10 December, face coverings will become compulsory in most public indoor venues, such as cinemas, theatres and places of worship. There will be exemptions in venues where it is not practical to wear one, such as when you are eating, drinking or exercising. For that reason, face masks will not be required in hospitality settings.

From Monday 13 December, those who can will be advised to work from home.

From Wednesday 15 December, and subject to parliamentary approval, the NHS Covid Pass on the NHS App will become mandatory for entry into nightclubs and settings where large crowds gather”

The last paragraph should not affect halls as it applies to unseated indoor events with 500 or more attendees, unseated outdoor events with 4,000 or more attendees and any event with 10,000 or more attendees.

Some notes from Kate Meads;

To check you are complying I would recommend you revise your Risk Assessment and ask hirers to do the same.

In most situations a face covering should be worn

When face coverings can be removed;

• If someone is exempt or a child under 12
• If the activity is an exemption e.g. exercise class, eating or drinking
• For emergency First Aid – CPR/breathing difficulties

Where the activity exempts people from wearing a face covering, people should expect to wear one to enter/leave the premises and in communal areas where the activity is not undertaken e.g. corridors and toilet areas.

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