New information to help village halls reopen
by Phillip Vincent,

New information to help village halls reopen

ACRE has prepared updated information to help volunteer management committees negotiate the latest easing of Covid-19 lockdown measures.

It has been a year since England’s 10,000+ village halls were forced to shut their doors for the first time. The closure of these buildings left many rural communities without a place to gather and put a stop to activities and events which help sustain village life.

Throughout the pandemic, Action with Communities in Rural England (ACRE) has worked with members of its network to help hall committees make sense of Covid-19 rules and keep their community safe.

Now, with the government heralding a new ‘Roadmap to Recovery’, the charity has published a new suite of information to help village halls reopen.

The new information sheet is our best interpretation of the Government’s regulations and includes sample checklists, notices and a useful table of activities

The ‘Re-opening Village and Community Halls’ Information Sheet’ explains what village halls can and cannot do over the next few months as Covid-19 restrictions are eased, including requirements for social distancing.

Under the rules, halls will be no longer be required to close, but will only be allowed to host a limited number of additional activities from 12 April, including supervised activities for children, weddings and wakes for up to 15 people and indoor markets. On 17 May, a greater range of activities will be permitted subject the ‘rule of 6’ but it will not be until 21 June at the earliest that all activities, including dancing get the go ahead.

Richard Quallington, ACRE’s Executive Director said, “The new information sheet is our best interpretation of the Government’s regulations and includes sample checklists, notices and a useful table of activities. Our members will be available to support groups wanting further information and advice, as well as providing Word versions of resources on request.”

The charity expects community groups will be eager to make use of village halls as restrictions are lifted but asks them to respect the approach that volunteer management committees take to reopening.

Deborah Clarke, ACRE’s Rural Evidence & Village Halls Manager explained, “If you are planning to hire your local village hall then we are sure you will be welcome and your support very much appreciated, but please bear with the Committee whilst they strive to put all the necessary precautions in place. Village halls are registered charities run by volunteers; they may be taking a cautious approach to opening their hall and consequently their community to the public again. These buildings are used by a range of organisations, many supporting vulnerable people, who need to be safe and secure. Where you have specific questions and have a national body for your activity or service then please refer to them. There is different Government Guidance and Regulations for different businesses and venues and these have been found to be contradictory in some areas”.

ENDS

Please note information for village halls has been updated since this news item was published. The most recent versions are listed below.

Information Sheet V10 (22.04.21)

Appendix D - Activities Table (22.04.21)

Appendix F - Risk Assessment for Halls Committees

Appendix G - Risk Assessment for Hall Hirers