Covid Update November 2021

Woodhouse Community Hall Trust Covid Update: November 2021

We have looked at the most recent ACRE (Action with Communities in Rural England) guidance to support us in our thinking about how we keep users of our Hall safe as we move into winter.

The charity sets out some practical measures halls can take to address risks when hiring out buildings based on an interpretation of the government’s preferred approach to managing the pandemic over the coming months. This includes keeping spaces well ventilated, encouraging the use of face masks and continued use of Track and Trace QR codes – although none of these are still required by law.

At the moment the Government’s COVID-19 Winter Plan announced on 14th September 2021 set out a Plan A and Plan B.

Plan A is to sustain progress through 5 approaches:
• Building our defences through pharmaceutical interventions
• Identifying and isolating positive cases to limit transmission
• Supporting the NHS and social care
• Advising people on how to protect themselves and others
• Pursuing an international approach

The advice to all is:
• Stay at home if you feel unwell. Get tested and isolate if required
• let fresh air into buildings or meet outdoors,
• wear a face covering in crowded and enclosed spaces where you come into contact with people you do not normally meet,
• maintain good hygiene practices: regular hand washing with soap and water or hand sanitizing, covering coughs and sneezes.

The test, trace and isolate programme will continue but in due course there will be a charge for Lateral Flow Tests. The advice remains “ If you develop COVID-19 symptoms, self-isolate immediately and get a PCR test, even if your symptoms are mild”. The legal obligation to self-isolate for ten days for those who have tested positive, and their unvaccinated contacts will continue.

While legal restrictions will no longer apply, Government Guidance has been re-issued to reflect renewed emphasis on ventilation and wearing face coverings.

If Plan A does not control the virus Plan B would include:
• Mandatory vaccine certification in certain, riskier settings
• Legally mandating face coverings in certain settings, such as shops and public transport
• Communicating clearly and urgently to the public if the risk level continues
• Asking people to work at home again if necessary.

What does this mean for Hall Bookers and Users?

1. All community events, activities and private hires can continue to take place.
2. Risks can be managed by hirers through ventilation, opening doors and windows. Encouraging use of face coverings in confined places, regular hand washing or hand sanitiser and cleaning frequently used surfaces. See ventilation advice below:
• Let fresh air into enclosed spaces, making it less likely a person will inhale infectious particles.
• Windows opened at the top should help avoid draughts.
• If windows and doors need to be closed for warmth during the event open them in the interval and after the event finishes for 10 minutes.
• Encourage people to come warmly dressed as weather gets colder.
• Do not prop fire doors open.

3. Any places where ventilation is inadequate should be identified and arrangements made to improve it or to require face coverings.
4. Capacity limits have been lifted. However, people should remain considerate of anyone who is Clinically Extremely Vulnerable, for whom the advice to shield has been lifted. They may feel cautious about attending a more crowded event such as a wedding reception, film, or play. It is important to help allow those people extra space so that they feel safe. They might, for example, be invited to sit near an open window or door, to use toilets first in the interval and ask everyone to wear face coverings. Reserved notices could be put on adjacent seats.
6. While social distancing rules are not in place, advice to individuals is to avoid close contact with anyone that they are not in regular contact with.
7. Use of the NHS QR codes for attendees wishing to check in using the NHS
COVID-19 app is still encouraged, so they are alerted if there’s an outbreak and can take action to protect others. However, this is no longer a legal requirement.

The NHS COVID Pass allows people to demonstrate that they are at lower risk of transmitting to others through full vaccination, a recent negative test, or proof of natural immunity.

While organisations operating large, crowded settings (such as nightclubs) are encouraged to use the NHS Covid Pass as a condition of entry it is not appropriate for buildings used for community activities and services. Those holding crowded event e.g., a wedding where Clinically Extremely Vulnerable people are expected may, if they wish, ask guests to use the NHS Covid Pass and/or show proof of a negative lateral flow test taken in the previous 2 days, but this is not mandatory.

Special Conditions of Hire during Winter 2021 (COVID-19)

Hall Bookers are asked to pay specific attention to the supplemental conditions of hire outlining your responsibilities to keep you and your users safe. These will be provided to you on Booking.