Village Halls and Coronavirus

Author

Kim Slater

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We are receiving queries from village hall management committees about the coronavirus situation.

Unfortunately, there is no national guidance specifically for village halls, though ACRE’s Village Halls Officer has made it clear that management committees have a responsibility to act in the best interest of their hall and are responsible for providing a facility for use by the community. Management committees should:

  • To 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 paper towels are available and hand driers are working efficiently
  • Avoid the use of hand towels
  • Put up a notice about hand washing
  • 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 any bookings follow the steps in their hiring agreement
  • Check with insurers about loss of income clauses

Cancellation of bookings is likely to have a significant impact on many organisations that trade to generate funds and village halls are no exception. If a hall management committee is concerned about income and cashflow, I would recommend that they take action now. This may include:

  • Plan for a significant loss in bookings income over the next few months
  • Contact suppliers to negotiate payment terms
  • Contact your bank to discuss the financial situation
  • Contact your insurer
  • Consider your reserves policy
  • Think about fundraising if you feel it necessary – time for a crowdfunding campaign in your local community

 

Action for Rural Sussex have produced a useful summary of current guidance with links to government websites:

Coronavirus Advice – March 2020

This article contains information on general guidance, stay at home guidance, advice for village halls, advice for community groups, protecting the isolated & vulnerable and advice for community transport.

Coronavirus

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 NHS website has more information about how coronavirus is spread and answers common questions about the virus.

The following symptoms may develop in the 14 days after exposure to someone who has COVID-19 infection:

  • Cough
  • Difficulty in breathing
  • Fever

General Guidance

Current information surrounding Coronavirus may change and therefore Action in rural Sussex recommend that everyone should follow all guidance issued by Public Health England and the NHS and keep abreast of the ever-changing situation.

Common sense is key in a situation like this and 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
  • 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
  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose and mouth with unwashed hands
  • Avoid close contact with people who are unwell

The following sites will give you further information:

Coronavirus (COVID-19): latest information and advice

NHS advice on reducing risk

What to do if you’re asked to self-isolate

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.

Key messages

  • 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 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 a activities for those groups who are most at risk from the virus.

Precautions include:

  • 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 soap and/or hand sanitiser is available, paper towels are available and hand driers are working efficiently
  • Avoid the use of hand towels for the time being
  • Put up a notice about hand washing, particularly in toilets and kitchen areas. Poster available here: Catch it bin it kill it
  • 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 any bookings follow the steps in their hiring agreement and activities in the event of the hall having to close, we suggest that you contact your insurance company to discuss what may be covered under your insurance policy regarding cancellation of events

Norris & Fisher has issued the following a statement:

Coronavirus Advice for Village Halls

We have received a number of enquiries as to whether Village Halls would be insured should they be forced to cancel activities or if hirers cancel their bookings owing to COVID-19.  The Business Interruption cover under the policy would not provide cover for this type of loss so there is no insurance for loss of earnings. If there were to be a pandemic it would be beyond the capability of insurers to pay for such losses.

​Some of our halls have asked their hirers to ensure that, if one of their members is ill, they should not attend the Hall. Should a visitor have been in contact with anyone suffering from the virus they should self-isolate. However, if an outbreak of COVID-19 were to be traced to the Hall it would not be possible for you to be held liable. In addition it may be best to ensure you have a good supply of soap, hand sanitisers and paper towels.

Useful Resources

Public Health England have produced a range of sample posters and it would be wise to use one of these as the basis for putting on the front door a poster asking people who have possible Coronavirus symptoms not to come into the hall.

Resources can be found at: PHE Resources