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Coronavirus & Community Buildings Guidance
Coronavirus and Community Buildings - 16 March 2020
This article contains information on general guidance, stay at home guidance, advice for village halls, advice for community groups, and protecting the isolated & vulnerable.
Information surrounding Coronavirus may change and therefore Northamptonshire ACRE recommends that everyone should follow the guidance issued by Public Health England and the NHS and keep abreast of the ever-changing situation.
A coronavirus is a type of virus. As a group, coronaviruses are common across the world. Typical symptoms of coronavirus include fever and a cough that may progress to a severe pneumonia causing shortness of breath and breathing difficulties.
Generally, coronavirus can cause more severe symptoms in people with weakened immune systems, older people, and those with long-term conditions like diabetes, cancer and chronic lung disease.
Novel coronavirus (COVID-19) is a new strain of coronavirus first identified in Wuhan City, China.
The following symptoms may develop in the 14 days after exposure to someone who has COVID-19 infection:
- Difficulty in breathing
Common sense is key in a situation like this and there are things you can do to help stop germs like coronavirus spreading:
- Always carry tissues with you and use them to catch your cough or sneeze. Then bin the tissue, and wash your hands, or use a sanitiser gel.
- Avoid touching your eyes, nose and mouth with unwashed hands.
- Avoid close contact with people who are unwell.
Wash your hands more often than usual, for 20 seconds each time with soap and water or hand sanitiser, especially when you:
- get home or into work;
- blow your nose, sneeze or cough;
- eat or handle food.
Further information available at:
Stay at home Guidance
This advice is intended for people with symptoms of coronavirus (COVID-19), including those with a diagnosis of coronavirus (COVID-19) infection, who must remain at home until they are well.
- If you have symptoms of coronavirus infection (COVID-19), however mild, stay at home and do not leave your house for 7 days from when your symptoms started.
- This action will help protect others in your community whilst you are infectious.
- Plan ahead and ask others for help to ensure that you can successfully stay at home.
- Ask your employer, friends and family to help you to get the things you need to stay at home.
- Stay at least 2 metres (about 3 steps) away from other people in your home whenever possible.
- Sleep alone, if that is possible.
- Wash your hands regularly for 20 seconds, each time using soap and water.
- Stay away from vulnerable individuals such as the elderly and those with underlying health conditions as much as possible.
- You do not need to call NHS111 to go into self-isolation. If your symptoms worsen during home isolation or are no better after 7 days contact NHS 111 online. If you have no internet access, you should call NHS 111. For a medical emergency dial 999.
Advice for Village Halls & Community Buildings
As it stands at the moment, halls can remain open, however Village Hall Management Committees running charitable halls must act in the best interest of the hall charity and have a duty of care in providing a safe facility for the community to use.
Your committee must bear in mind that extra precautions need to be made as your hall provides activities for those groups who are most at risk from the virus.
- Take notice of the Government and Public Health England websites and keep up to date with the ongoing situation.
- Keep the Hall very clean and ensure that hand washing facilities, soap and/or hand sanitiser are available, paper towels are available and hand driers are working efficiently.
- Avoid the use of hand towels for the time being.
- Encourage everyone to wash / sanitise their hands regularly. Put up notices about hand cleaning, particularly in toilets and kitchen areas and a poster on the front door asking anyone with Coronavirus symptoms not to come into the building. Links for posters: Catch it bin it kill it, NHS hand cleaning, Public Health England posters
- Advise hirers that they are expected to act responsibly and take notice of Government and Public Health England advice which includes who is and isn’t allowed to be in public spaces.
- Regarding cancellation of bookings, follow the steps in the hall hire agreement and conditions of hire.
- Review the hall’s insurance policy and contact insurer to discuss cover regarding cancellation of activities in the event of the hall having to close.
Statement from Allied Westminster
Coronavirus 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 business continuity:
- Plan for trustees to take on additional responsibilities in the event of others being unwell or self-isolated, e.g. Chairperson; Treasurer; Signatories; Keyholder; Bookings secretary etc.
- Consider meeting alternatives e.g. Skype. WhatsApp, Facetime.
- Review existing hire agreements and consider the financial impact of cancellation of bookings.
- Speak to your funders about the possible impact of cancelling or delaying project activities which are part of funding agreements.
- Plan for how the hall will be cleaned / maintained in the event of the cleaner / caretaker being unwell or self-isolated.
The Charity Commission has guidance on charities and risk management
Advice for Community Groups
- Group members must inform the rest of the group if they are self-isolating
- Remind everyone of the importance of hand hygiene – See general guidance above
Cancellation of events:
- If your group is planning an event which will bring together large numbers of people, keep your plans under review. If your events depend on volunteers, be aware that some may prefer to stay home.
- If you are hosting a formal meeting, such as an AGM, plan for reduced attendance or the need to move locations and times meetings and refer to your organisation’s governing document to see what it says about remote participation and quorum.
- Check cancellation policies for venue bookings you’ve made or are about to make.
Hosting a group meeting:
Some members may prefer not to attend a group meeting, therefore consider:
- Is the meeting really essential or can it be cancelled or postponed?
- Consider electronic alternatives such as Skype, WhatsApp, FaceTime.
- No one should be made to feel that they must attend
Protecting the Isolated and Vulnerable
Guidance produced with thanks to Action in Rural Sussex.