Our AGM this year was held in Preston on 23rd October. It was wonderful to…
This article contains information on general guidance, stay at home guidance, advice for village halls, advice for community groups and protecting the isolated & vulnerable.
COVID-19 is a new illness that can affect your lungs and airways. It’s caused by a virus called coronavirus. 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.
The following symptoms may develop in the 14 days after exposure to someone who has COVID-19 infection:
- Difficulty in breathing
Current information surrounding Coronavirus may change and therefore Community Futures recommend that everyone should follow all guidance issued by Public Health England and the NHS and keep abreast of the ever-changing situation.
- 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:
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 live alone and you have symptoms of coronavirus illness (COVID-19), however mild, stay at home for 7 days from when your symptoms started. (See ending isolation section below for more information)
- If you have coronavirus symptoms: do not go to a GP surgery, pharmacy or hospital you do not need to contact 111 to tell them you’re staying at home testing for coronavirus is not needed if you’re staying at home
- If you feel you cannot cope with your symptoms at home, or your condition gets worse, or your symptoms do not get better after 7 days, then use the NHS 111 online coronavirus service. If you do not have internet access, call NHS 111. For a medical emergency dial 999 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
- 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
- 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 NHS 111 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 of the 16th March 2020, the UK Government announced that people should “Avoid large gatherings, and gatherings in smaller public spaces such as pubs, cinemas, restaurants, theatres, bars, clubs”. This advice should be taken into consideration and common sense applied in your decision to close your building.
The Government has indicated there may be help regarding loss of income for certain businesses. As yet we do not know if village halls and community buildings will be eligible. Further information will be supplied to halls once we have confirmation.
Village Hall Management Committees running charitable halls have a duty of care in providing a safe facility for the community to use. Therefore, should you wish to remain open, your committee must bear in mind that extra precautions need to be made as your hall may provide 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 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.
Allied Westminster statement:
“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 will become unoccupied or operate on a significantly reduced level.
Normally you would have to let us now, but this is the picture nationally. Allied Westminster (VillageGuard) will accept this as the norm for the moment for our clients, however you normally have to let your insurer know.
For Allied Westminster VillageGuard clients, please only notify us if the closure is previously planned due to works or the hall has been unoccupied more than 45 day. Other halls should refer to their insurers
- 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
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.
Advice for Community Groups
- Group members must advise the rest of the group if they are self-isolating
- The importance of hand hygiene – See general guidance above
- Cancellation of events:
- If your group is an planning 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 is 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 (Social Distancing)
For details on social distancing, please visit PHE
Coronavirus & Mental Health and Wellbeing:
As we find ourselves amidst the Coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, there is justifiable concern for people’s mental health and anxiety, especially those who find themselves in isolation. UK charity Mind, have produce advice on Coronavirus and your wellbeing.
If you or you know someone that is affected, please visit https://www.mind.org.uk/information-support/coronavirus-and-your-wellbeing/ for the latest guidance.
Other useful sites & resources: