Coronavirus and Village Halls

The Government announcement on Monday 16th March in light of the coronavirus, significantly affects how the public should now act and behave into the foreseeable future. In response, it's vital that the managers of community buildings are taking the necessary precautionary steps and are keeping abreast of the latest information issued by the government.

The primary aim is to delay the spread of the coronavirus and help protect those at higher risk due to their age or pre-existing health conditions. The key government message is to avoid social contact as much as possible.

Closure or not

Trustees and managers of community halls need to consider their own particular situation and how they will manage bookings in light of this latest government advice, e.g. many host pre-schools and after school care as well as by local schools which as yet, haven't been instructed to close, some halls host essential services which need to stay open, such as Food Banks, Community Shops, doctor's surgeries.

The key government message is to avoid social contact at this stage. If however, your hall is being used to deliver essential services, then managers need to ensure that they have followed all the necessary precautionary measures and are confident that service providers also adhere to the latest government advice.

According to government advice therefore, all non-essential events ought to be postponed.to avoid any unnecessary social contacts. 

Also consider:
  • does your hall feature in the plans of the local emergency response team or a group set up to provide community support and that groups should plan for this.
  • the impact of closure on isolation, well being, etc. and ask regular user groups to find alternative ways of providing support.
  • provide advice on hygiene and management of the building.
  • keep abreast of national guidance and daily government announcements; to review the impact of closure on the community and the hall; to consider any needs to make the hall available; to prepare for re-opening.
  • prepare groups for a closure of the hall without notice or with very short notice.

Many hall management committee members are in vulnerable groups themselves, and so some halls will struggle to operate, add to this the cancellations that are coming thick and fast, it is inevitable that some halls will decide to close.

Government Guidance on Social Distancing for everyone in the UK and protecting older people and vulnerable adults.

Government Grants announced 17th March - unfortunately it is too soon to know whether Village Halls are eligible to apply for any financial support from the government. There is currently no clarification on how broad the definition of the 'hospitality and leisure' sector is that was announced yesterday or whether they intend to support charities as well as eligible businesses. The grant applies to businesses which receive small business rate relief. Village halls however receive a combination of mandatory relief and discretionary relief, which has the same effect i.e. they pay no business rates.

ACRE is currently seeking clarification on this. We will keep halls updated on any further information.

Resources to download:

Covid-19 Cyber and Fraud Information Sheet (28th March)
Allied Westminster Insurance issued this Coronavirus Statement (posted 26th March)
Covid-19 Recreation Equipment Closure Notice (posted 31 March 2020)

Useful advice for all and Village Halls:  

  • Loss of revenue cover comes into force only after damage to property caused by an insured peril. It is designed to cover loss of income when the hall is closed for a period of time in order for repairs to be carried out. Unfortunately, if the hall has to be closed due to a breakout of the virus, no property damage has occurred so there is no business interruption cover in place. 
  • Property insurers would not cover closure due to pandemic.

 
Protecting Your Village/Community Hall at this time:

  • Halls may become unoccupied or operate on a significantly reduced level, and this increases the risk of losses. 
  • If your hall is running on a significantly reduced basis, and especially unoccupied due to the pandemic, letting your insurers know, and keeping them informed of any developments, is essential. 
  • It is essential that you let your insurer or policy administrator have a second and ideally third contact in the event of an insurable loss, allowing them to process the claim with an authorised and recognised person (GDPR!) 
  • This will help speed along any claims and avoid hold-ups. This is especially important right now when key contacts may suffer as a result of the illness.
  • There are some considerations that should be kept in mind to protect their assets and people: 
  • Risk assessments must be carried out on the changing risk/lack of supervision in place
  •  Heating left ‘ticking-over’ but other critical services powered down if not required, unless to support protection or detection systems
  •  All external areas must be clear of waste and combustible materials
  •  Consider waste build-up and the controls needed if waste collection services are affected
  •  All fire protection, detection, and security systems to remain active and monitored remotely where possible
  •  Maintenance on all protection and/or detection systems (where in place) must be a priority to protect the property
  •  All physical security and locking devices are working and in place
  •  There are no leaking fluids or spills   

Village Hall Management Committee’s must always act in the best interest of the hall charity and are responsible for providing a facility for the use of the community. Therefore, it needs to be a safe place and halls need to follow the public advice issued by the government, statutory agencies and other relevant organisations.

Posters: 

NHS Coronavirus Public Information Poster
Public Health England Coronavirus (COVID-19) Resources 
Catch it bin it kill it.docx 333 KB

Public information on Coronavirus:  
·         Public Health England’s guidance for a range of sectors 
·         NHS advice on reducing risk
·         Coronavirus (COVID-19): latest information and advice
·         Common questions
·         Derbyshire County Council advice on Coronavirus

The National Council for Voluntary Organisations (NCVO ) has issued very helpful advice to voluntary organisations, which includes guidance on how to manage and support staff, volunteers and visitors, employment issues, insurance, financial implications, potential discrimination and other potential concerns.