Covid-19 Advice & Guidance

The guidance on this page is specifically to support local community and voluntary groups to make informed choices about their group, activity, or building under COVID-19 restrictions, and to the best of our ability is correct in light of May 17 changes. (For other resources for groups, such as Covid Risk Assessment templates, leaflet templates, funding, signposting to other services etc, click here)

We have worked alongside local partners to identify best practice to safely operate.

If there is any guidance that you need that is not listed here, or if you have a specific question, please get in touch, and we’ll try to answer it.

Groups & organisations are encouraged to send a representative to join the Covid Champions programme. This ensures you have a good understanding of the coronavirus and how to stop the spread, you have access to medical professionals and local advice, you will get all relevant updates and changes, and you have access to regular catch-up sessions at which groups are able to feedback any concerns or questions. It is a good way to ensure due diligence when preparing to re-open a service and to keep your community / group as safe as possible.

The key thing to bear in mind, is that just because you are legally allowed to run your community group, doesn’t mean that you should.  You have to carefully consider the risks both to your volunteers and your participants / community members. Joining the Covid Champions programme means you can discuss your situation with our trainers and others in the community and get answers to queries, to help make the best decision.

Please see below for  answers to Frequently Asked Questions 


An Overview of the Roadmap and Analysis as it relates to

Community Groups and Volunteers


Covid-19 and Community Buildings


Safe Volunteering Guidance (click here)

For model Risk Assessments, see the Resources page


Covid Regulations for Community Groups

As of the 17th May, we are now allowed to meet outdoors in groups of up to 30 people. You can now also meet indoors in groups of up to six people or two households. You don’t have to stay 2m apart from friends and family, but consider the risks to you and those you are with.

Leisure and sport facilitites are open indoors and outdoors, including gyms, indoor sports facilities, swimming pools, saunas and steam rooms. Organised sport and group exercises are allowed. Events, including live performances, business events and sporting events can proceed with capacity limits, indoors and outdoors. However, you should still work from home if you can. For the full details, see the Government’s Covid Road Map.

(With thanks to the Resource Centre)

Because the conditions of lockdown are subject to change, please check here for any updates.

We are currently at stage 3 of the plan, which began on 17th May. This means the following activities are now permitted:

  • After-school clubs for vulnerable children (indoors or outdoors)
  • Outdoor organised sports
  • Parents and children groups (up to 30, not counting children aged 5 and under), indoors or outdoors
  • After-school clubs for all children, outdoors
  • Community Centres allowed to open. There is specific government guidance for community facilities
  • Outdoors – gatherings up to 30 people
  • Indoors – gatherings up to 6 people (or 2 households)
  • Indoor adult group sports and exercise classes

COVID-Secure guidance remains in place for all activities.

The government is assessing the situation and will announce the timing of further relaxations. At the moment, these are planned to take place no earlier than 21st June.

Exemptions to Covid restrictions

Even where activities remain restricted, there are some specific exemptions, which mean your group may be able to organise larger group activities. The general rules for Covid-safe activities still apply.

The relevant exemptions are:

Voluntary or charitable services

Gatherings above the limit of 6 people or 2 households indoors, or above 30 people outdoors can take place for the purposes of providing voluntary or charitable services.

Providing care or assistance

Gatherings above the limit of 6 people or 2 households indoors can take place for the purposes of providing care or assistance, such as:

  • to go to a support group of up to 30 participants. The limit of 30 does not include children under 5 who are accompanying a parent or guardian
  • to provide care or assistance for disabled or vulnerable people, including shopping for essential items and accessing services on their behalf

You can also provide care or assistance for disabled or vulnerable people inside someone’s home, where necessary.

Support groups

Your community group is allowed to bring together up to 30 people to offer each other mutual aid, therapy, or any other form of support. These can be focused on any issue your members or community need support with, for example, support to victims of crime, people in drug and alcohol recovery, new parents and guardians, people with long-term illnesses, people facing issues relating to their sexuality or gender, and those who have suffered bereavement, and vulnerable young people.

You must follow the general rules and cannot meet in a private home. Where a support group includes someone covered by an exception (for example, someone who is working or volunteering), they are not counted as part of the gatherings limit. For example, you could have 30 people participating in a support group plus two volunteers running it.

Childcare, children’s activities and youth work

Your group can provide:

  • early years childcare
  • childcare that is reasonably necessary to enable parents to work
  • respite care
  • support groups for parents, children and young people. Children under 5 do not count towards the limit of 30 people.

Youth clubs should follow the comprehensive National Youth Association guidance.

Children under school age or people dependent on round-the-clock care

Children under school age and carers of people dependent on round-the-clock care are specifically exempted from the limits on numbers of people who can meet each other.

Protests

Gathering in a group above the limit of 6 people or 2 households indoors, or above 30 people outdoors is permitted for the purpose of COVID-secure protests or picketing where the organiser has taken the required precautions, including completing a risk assessment.

For every activity that your group organises, the group is responsible for ensuring:

1. Participants follow social distancing guidelines

This means that people who do not live together should:

  • keep 2 metres apart from one another;
  • avoid physical contact; and
  • avoid touching the same items or surfaces.

If people cannot stay 2 metres apart, they should stay 1 metre apart and wear face masks.

2. The activity follows ‘Covid-19 Secure’ guidelines

To make sure that the activity you are organising is as safe as possible, your group must:

  • Complete a Covid-19 risk assessment
  • Hold the activity in either a public outdoor space or an indoor venue that has ‘Covid-19 Secure’ measures in place
  • For sports activities, follow the Covid-19 guidance from the relevant national body for your sport. A list of national bodies for England can be found here.
  • Ensure everyone washes or sanitises their hands as soon as they arrive at the activity, and regularly throughout
  • Minimise people touching the same surfaces or items e.g. cups, chairs, pens
  • Plan the activity in a way that allows people to socially distance
  • Make sure there is good ventilation
  • Take part in NHS Test and Trace
  • Not allow anyone to come to the activity who has Covid-19 symptoms
Covid-19 Secure measures

Most community centres and venues that hire out rooms are now following ‘Covid-19 Secure’ guidelines, but always check before you book. To be ‘Covid-19 Secure’, the venue must: have a Covid-19 risk assessment; clean more often; ask visitors to socially distance and wear masks; increase ventilation; take part in NHS Test and Trace; turn away anyone with Covid-19 symptoms.

3. People do not mix with each other before, during or after the activity

It is the group’s legal responsibility to ensure that no one socialises with anyone outside their own household or support bubble in any breaks or at the beginning or end of the activity session.


Frequently Asked Questions:

Some of the rules on what you can and cannot do changed on 17 May. However, coronavirus restrictions remain in place. You should continue to work from home if you can, travel safely, and follow the rules in the Coronavirus Restrictions guidance.

The government has published the ‘COVID-19 Response – Spring 2021’ setting out the roadmap out of the current coronavirus restrictions. This is a step-by-step plan to ease restrictions in England cautiously.

Businesses already permitted to open through steps 1 and 2

The ‘COVID-19 Response – Spring 2021’ describes the step-by-step plan for how restrictions in England have been eased cautiously so far.

Businesses permitted to open through steps 1 and 2:

Businesses providing supervised activities for childcare and outdoor sports facilities were permitted to open from step 1.

In Step 2 non-essential retail (clothes shops or florists, for example) and close contact personal services (such as hairdressers) were permitted to open.

Indoor sports centres such as gyms, outdoor sections at attractions and self-contained holiday accommodation were also permitted to reopen when used by people alone or with their household (or support bubble). Outdoor hospitality settings such as restaurants and cafes were also permitted to open.

At Step 3, these businesses and venues must only be attended/used in line with the social contact limits, unless a legal exemption applies (such as for organised sport, childcare, or support groups). This means visitors and attendees must only gather in a group of up to 6 people or a larger group consisting of no more than 2 households indoors. They must only gather in a group of up to 30 people outdoors. Visitors should also follow guidance on meeting friends and family.

Businesses and venues reopening at Step 3, 17 May

Indoor hospitality

Indoor areas of hospitality venues can reopen for groups of up to 6 people or larger groups consisting of no more than 2 households. This includes:

  • restaurants
  • pubs
  • bars, including those in hotels or members’ clubs
  • social clubs
  • cafes and canteens

Hospitality venues providing alcohol for consumption on the premises, such as pubs and restaurants, will be required to provide table service. Venues that do not provide alcohol for consumption on the premises, such as certain cafes, may permit customers to order from the counter, but any food/drink must be consumed whilst seated.

Venues are prohibited from providing smoking equipment such as shisha pipes, for use on the premises. View further guidance for hospitality venues.

Indoor sports and leisure

You can exercise outdoors in groups of up to 30, or indoors in a group of 6 or a larger group of any size from no more than 2 households (including their support bubbles, if eligible).

Indoor organised sport and group exercise classes can resume for all, in any number. This must be organised by a business, charity or public body and the organiser must take the required precautions, including the completion of a risk assessment. Access further guidance on grassroots sport.

You should avoid contact in training and, for some sports, avoid contact in all activities. Read the guidance on what avoiding contact means for your sport.

Saunas and steam rooms may also reopen at sports and leisure facilities

Indoor entertainment and visitor attractions

Indoor entertainment and visitor attractions can reopen. This includes:

  • amusement arcades and adult gaming centres
  • bingo halls
  • casinos
  • circuses
  • bowling alleys
  • snooker and pool halls

Indoor areas at the following attractions may also reopen:

  • museums and galleries
  • adventure playgrounds and activities
  • skating rinks
  • games and recreation venues, including laser quest, escape rooms, paintballing and recreational driving facilities
  • play areas (including soft play centres and inflatable parks)
  • model villages
  • trampolining parks
  • water and aqua parks
  • theme parks and film studios
  • zoos, safari parks, aquariums and other animal attractions
  • botanical gardens, greenhouses and biomes
  • sculpture parks
  • landmarks including observation wheels or viewing platforms
  • stately or historic homes, castles, or other heritage sites

These indoor venues and attractions must only be accessed in groups of up to 6 people or larger groups consisting of no more than 2 households unless an exemption applies. Events held at these venues should follow the specific guidance on events below.

Performance arts

Performance arts venues such as cinemas, theatres, and concert halls may reopen. This also includes outdoor performance venues which have also been required to close until Step 3. See further guidance on performance arts.

Events

Conference centres and exhibition halls will also be able to open for conferences, exhibitions, tradeshows, and private dining and banqueting events (subject to the capacity limits set out below).

Indoor events and remaining outdoor events, such as elite sport events, business events, cinemas and live performance events are also permitted.

Attendance at these events is restricted to 50% of capacity up to 1,000 people for indoor events, and 50% of capacity up to 4,000 people for outdoor events.

For outdoor events taking place in venues with seated capacity of over 16,000, attendance of up to 25% of seated capacity, or 10,000 seated people, whichever is lowest, is permitted. There is further guidance on organising events during COVID-19

Both outdoor and indoor gatherings or events, organised by a business, charity, public body or similar organisation, can be organised, subject to specific conditions: that they comply with COVID-secure guidance including taking reasonable steps to limit the risk of transmission, complete a related risk assessment; and ensure that those attending do not mix beyond what is permitted by the social contact limits (unless another exemption exists, such as for organised sport or exercise, supervised activities for children or a significant life event).

Holiday accommodation

Remaining holiday accommodation can reopen for groups of up to 6 or larger groups consisting of no more than 2 households. Saunas and steam rooms may reopen, however should follow COVID-secure guidance. See guidance for people who work in or run hotels and other guest accommodation.

All workplaces that employ people must carry out a risk assessment in line with Health and Safety Executive guidance, before re-opening. If you employ 5 or more people this risk assessment must be written down. If you do not employ people it is still recommended that you complete a risk assessment to help the people you work with stay safe. A risk assessment will help you:

  • Identify activities and situations that might increase the risk of spreading the virus.
  • Think about who could be at risk.
  • Think about how likely it is that someone could be exposed to the virus.
  • Think about actions you could take to remove or minimise the risk.

You should share the results of your risk assessment with your staff and volunteers. You might also want to share it on your website if you have one.

Think about the particular needs of different groups of people, for example those with a disability or long-term condition. Think about how any measures you are considering implementing might be inappropriate or challenging for some people. You could ask people who visit your setting and who have a disability what would help them. People with a learning disability or visual impairment could need more support to work in or visit your setting safely.

For some tips, visit: Supporting people with a visual impairment (RNIB).

Note: You should also review your fire risk assessments to check that they are still suitable. The situation may have changed if venues have been closed for a while or if key people are absent.

Going to work

You should continue to work from home where you can.

If you cannot work from home you should continue to travel to your workplace. You do not need to be classed as a critical worker to go to work if you cannot work from home.

Employers and employees should discuss their working arrangements, and employers should take every possible step to facilitate their employees working from home, including providing suitable IT and equipment to enable remote working. Where people cannot work from home, employers should take steps to make their workplaces COVID-19 secure and help employees avoid busy times and routes on public transport. Extra consideration should be given to those people at higher risk.

COVID-secure rules, including social distancing requirements, continue to apply in the workplace. COVID-secure guidelines are available for sectors across the economy to substantially reduce the risk of spreading COVID-19.

See guidance for restrictions on businesses and venues in England

Meeting others for work

You can gather in a group larger than six people or two households indoors or in a group larger than 30 people outdoors where it is necessary for your work. When working, you should remain 2 metres from anyone you do not live with, or at least 1m with additional mitigations.

Working in other people’s homes

Where it is reasonably necessary for you to work in other people’s homes you can continue to do so, for example if you’re a:

  • nanny
  • cleaner
  • tradesperson
  • social care worker providing support to children and families

You should follow the guidance on working in other people’s homes.

Where a work meeting does not need to take place in a private home or garden, it should not.

If you are clinically extremely vulnerable or live with someone who is clinically extremely vulnerable

If you have been identified as clinically extremely vulnerable then you should continue to work from home where possible. If you cannot work from home, you can go to your workplace. Your employer is required to take steps to reduce the risk of exposure to COVID-19 in the workplace and should be able to explain to you the measures they have put in place to keep you safe at work. Some employers may introduce regular testing of employees as part of these measures. You may also want to consider how you get to and from work, for example, if it is possible to avoid using public transport during rush hour.

If you live with someone who is clinically extremely vulnerable then you can continue to go to work if you are unable to work from home. As an employer, you should make sure suitable arrangements are in place so that they can work safely. You should consider whether clinically extremely vulnerable individuals can take on an alternative role or change their working patterns temporarily to avoid travelling during busy periods.

If you are worried about going in to work or you cannot work

There is guidance if you need to self-isolate or cannot go to work due to coronavirus and what to do if you’re employed and cannot work.

Citizens Advice has advice if you’re worried about working, including what to do if you think your workplace is not safe, or if you live with someone vulnerable.

Support is available if you cannot work, for example if you need to care for someone or you have less work.

There is further advice for employers and employees from ACAS (the Advisory, Conciliation and Arbitration Service).

See also: Supporting staff, volunteers and beneficiaries and keeping safe (National Council for Voluntary Organisations – NCVO).

You should make every reasonable effort to enable staff and volunteers to work from home as a first option. This can be helped by:

  • Discussing home working arrangements with each person.
  • Ensuring they have the right equipment they need.
  • Staying in touch regularly and including them in all necessary communications.
  • Supporting them to look after their physical and mental well-being.

Where working from home is not possible, you should comply with the social distancing guidelines set out by the Government.

For more about this, visit: Supporting staff, volunteers and beneficiaries and keeping safe (National Council for Voluntary Organisations – NCVO).

You should first check whether your setting is permitted to be open at all.

Only have the minimum number of staff and volunteers on site to operate safely and effectively.

  • Limit the number of visitors on site at any one time.
  • The number will depend on the size of the setting to allow people from different households to be kept apart. Also, to enable people to maintain 2m social distancing.
  • The latest Government guidance advises that 2m social distancing should still be maintained wherever possible.
  • However, if this is not viable for your organisation, 1m+ distancing is acceptable if more steps are taken. (This could be things like screens, back-to-back working.)

Consider whether you can see visitors by appointment so you can plan how many people will be on site at any time.

Things you can do to help reduce the risk of spreading the virus as people enter and leave your setting include:

  • Use markings to introduce a one-way flow of people entering and exiting the setting. For example, people enter through one door and exit through another.
  • Stagger arrival and departure times for staff, volunteers and visitors to reduce crowding at entrance points.
  • Provide extra parking and facilities, like bike racks to help people avoid using public transport when visiting your setting.
  • Increase the number of entry points into the setting where possible.
  • Provide hand washing facilities (or hand sanitiser if this is not possible) at entry and exit points.
  • Provide alternatives to touch-based security devices such as keypads.
  • Put up signs or visual aids asking people to put on a face covering before they enter an indoor setting.
  • Review signing in and out procedures so that people do not have to share pens or papers.

You can use external fire exit doors as additional ways in and out of your premises. If they are not usually used check the route is clear and accessible to all, including people with limited mobility. You should also consider how the use of fire exit doors may affect security. (Can doors be left open? Can you see who is entering your setting?). External fire exit doors must still be kept clear so that they can be used as emergency exits. e.g. queuing systems must not block the exit. Internal fire doors must be kept closed and should not be wedged open.

It may be helpful to let people know about any changes you make so that they know what to expect when they arrive. Consider whether you can email your regular visitors or put some information on your website or social media pages. You could also text or telephone service users without access to the internet to let them know what to expect.

Steps that can be taken to help people maintain 2m social distancing in your setting include:

  • Putting signs or visual aids up to remind staff, volunteers and visitors of 2m social distancing guidelines.
  • Workstations should be kept 2m apart and assigned to an individual rather than shared or used as hot desks.
  • Using floor tape or paint to mark areas with 2m gaps.
  • Introducing one way flows of people throughout a setting (internal fire doors should be kept shut and not wedged open).
  • Seeing visitors and service users by appointment rather than running drop-ins.
  • Reducing the maximum occupancy for lifts and encouraging the use of stairs if possible.

Social distancing applies to entrances and exits, break rooms and canteens, toilets, lockers and washrooms as well as workspaces. Try to stagger break times, find some outdoor space for breaks and reconfigure tables and chairs to reduce face-to-face interactions. Consider putting signs or visual aids up in toilet areas to remind people to keep 2m apart.

Social distancing should only be reduced to 1m+ if it is not viable for your organisation to operate with 2m distancing. In these cases, additional steps must be taken to help reduce the risk of spreading the virus.

First, consider if an activity is vital for your organisation.

  • If it is not, you should continue to suspend the activity or look at different ways it can be delivered. For example, could it be delivered online or by phone?
  • If it is necessary and must be delivered in person, you can take actions to reduce the risk of spreading the virus:
    • Increase the frequency of handwashing and surface cleaning.
    • Keep the time spent within 2m of another person as short as possible.
    • Use screens or barriers to separate people.
    • Use back-to-back or side-to-side working instead of face-to-face working.
    • Stagger arrival and departure times.
    • Reduce the number of people each person has contact with by using fixed teams or partnering.
    • Wear a face covering (this is different to a face mask) in indoor settings.
    • Consider whether the people doing this kind of work, as well as the service users, are especially vulnerable to COVID-19.

Not all of these measures will be possible in every setting or for every activity. Consider each one and implement those that are appropriate for your setting.

If 2 metre social distancing is not viable for your organisation 1metre plus distancing is allowed. In these cases, additional steps like those listed above, must be taken to reduce the risk of spreading the virus.

Washing your hands with warm water and soap for at least 20 seconds is the best way to prevent the spread of COVID-19. Hand washing and drying facilities (preferably paper hand towels) should be provided for all people entering your setting wherever possible. Consider putting up signs or visual aids to alert visitors that these facilities are available.

If this is not possible you may want to provide hand sanitizer for people to use when they enter and leave your premises. Hand sanitiser should contain at least 60% alcohol to be effective.

There are lots of digital platforms available that can be used to hold virtual meetings. This should be considered as the first option. The Civil Society has information on technology that is available to support remote working.

If a virtual meeting is not appropriate or possible then face-to-face meetings should only involve those participants who are absolutely vital. All participants should maintain a 2m distance from each other. This could be achieved by removing some chairs from the meeting room or using signs or floor markings. All participants should wear a face covering unless they are exempt. Where possible hold meetings in well ventilated rooms.

If you usually use PPE in your activity to protect against non-COVID-19 risks you should continue to do so.

  • Experts have advised that PPE like face masks, gloves or aprons is not needed routinely outside of care settings.
  • There is no need to use PPE as a precaution, unless you are in a situation where the risk of transmission is very high. (For example, this could be a clinical setting or when responding to a confirmed case of COVID-19).
  • It is important that we use our PPE supplies wisely to make sure it is always available in care settings. We can all play our part by not using PPE when it is not needed.

For the latest guidance, visit: Coronavirus (COVID-19): personal protective equipment (PPE) hub (GOV.UK).

Important note: Has a risk assessment shown that PPE is needed? If yes, it must be given free of charge to all staff/volunteers who need it.

You should wear a face covering in any indoor setting where you will be around people who you do not live with. The Government has provided a list of places you will have to wear a face covering by law (GOV.UK). This includes public transport, taxis, shops and supermarkets, libraries and community centres.

Face coverings must also be worn in places providing hospitality except when seated at a table to eat or drink.

Face coverings become less effective the more time you spend with people. They are good for short periods, for example going into a shop. They are less effective in office environments where you might be for several hours. Face coverings are not compulsory in workplaces such as offices where you work with the same people consistently.

Face coverings are not the same as face masks that are used as part of PPE. Evidence shows that wearing a face covering mainly protects others, not the wearer, from COVID-19. It is very important that you continue to follow other Government advice even if you are wearing a face covering. You must stay at home if you have symptoms of COVID-19. You should still wash your hands regularly for at least 20 seconds and maintain 2m social distancing even if you are wearing a face covering.

As face coverings are not classed as Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) they do not have to be routinely provided to employees.

Guidance is available on how to wear a face covering (GOV.UK) and how to make a cloth face covering (GOV.UK). Wash your hands before putting on a face covering. Wash your hands again before and after taking off a face covering. Do not reuse single use face coverings.

Be mindful that not all people are able to wear face coverings. The Government has given guidance on people who are exempt from wearing a face covering (GOV.UK).

This guidance applies to non-healthcare settings only.

Settings that have been closed for a while should be cleaned thoroughly prior to opening. Windows and doors should be opened frequently to encourage ventilation.

Normal cleaning methods will kill the coronavirus and help to prevent it spreading. Cleaning should take place at least daily (assuming the setting has been used) and if possible, between shift changes. The more people who have contact with premises or surfaces, the more frequently they should be cleaned. Vacuuming should only be carried out when absolutely necessary and ideally at the end of the day when everybody has left.

Wash your hands with warm soapy water for at least 20 seconds before cleaning. Wear disposable or washing up gloves (individual use only, not shared) and ideally a disposable apron for cleaning. Gloves and aprons should be changed between cleaning toilets and other areas.

First clean hard surfaces with warm soapy water using a disposable cloth. Then disinfect these surfaces with a normal household disinfectant. Pay particular attention to things that are frequently touched like door handles, light switches, desks, telephones and bannisters.

Vacuum soft furnishings and carpets if absolutely necessary but avoid shaking cushions and rugs as this could contaminate other areas. Steam cleaning is recommended in areas that are difficult to clean and for soft furnishings that cannot be laundered. Steam-clean things when they become visibly soiled. Steam-clean other items approximately once a month if they are not visibly soiled.

Vacuum hard floors first to remove any visible debris. Then mop using a disposable or laundered mop head with warm water and your normal floor cleaning product that is suitable for the surface.

Toilet areas and washrooms will need to be cleaned more regularly (at least twice daily) to ensure they are kept clean. Paper hand towels or electric hand driers should be provided.

All cleaning equipment should itself be cleaned between each use. If disposable mop heads are not available then mop heads should be laundered at a minimum of 60°C after each use. Gloves, aprons, cloths and disposable mop heads should be double-bagged after cleaning has finished. The bags should be stored securely for 72 hours and then thrown away in the regular rubbish. If you know what day your external bins are emptied, waste can be put in the external bin three or more days before collection. All waste made in the three days prior to collection should be stored securely. This can then be put in the external bin after it has been emptied, ready for the next collection.

Wash your hands with soap and water for at least 20 seconds after you have removed and disposed of your cleaning materials, gloves and apron.

Provide more waste facilities and more frequent waste collections where possible. Ideally bins should have a lid and be non-touch operated (like pedal bins). If surfaces and items are likely to be used by multiple people consider:

  • providing disposable wipes;
  • or other cleaning products, so that they can be wiped down between use.

There is no need to do anything extra if there has been a confirmed COVID-19 case in your setting. As long as you have thoroughly cleaned, regularly. You may just want to do an extra clean of the things and surfaces the person may have touched.

For more about cleaning in a non-healthcare setting, visit: COVID-19: cleaning in non-healthcare settings (GOV.UK).

Yes.

The decision to do so should be made by each individual organisation as part of a risk assessment.

You could consider asking people to bring their own food and drink for refreshments for the time being.

COVID-19 is not known to be transmitted by exposure to food or food packaging. This means it is very unlikely that you can catch it from food. However, it can be spread by sharing items of crockery or cutlery if hygiene measures are not put in place. If you decide to provide refreshments, here are some tips about how you can do so more safely.

  • If your setting has been closed for a while, check the ‘use by’ date on your food and drink supplies.
    • Throw away supplies that are past their use by date.
    • Also, dispose of those that should have been consumed within a certain period after being opened. For example, “eat within 3 days of opening”.
    • Best before dates are about quality rather than safety. If the date has passed the food will not be harmful, but it may not taste as nice.
  • Make sure surfaces have been cleaned thoroughly using a food safe disinfectant or hot soapy water if this is not available.
  • Ensure everybody preparing and receiving refreshments washes their hands with warm soapy water for at least 20 seconds beforehand. Use hand sanitiser if hand washing facilities are not available.
  • Reusable cups, plates or containers should be washed before and after use in hot soapy water or in a dishwasher if suitable. You could consider temporarily using disposable cups (ideally non-plastic) or asking people to bring their own cups.
  • Minimise direct contact with food by using tongs and utensils. Ask people to only touch items that they are going to use or eat themselves. Minimise self-service to avoid lots of people using the same utensils.
  • Wash fresh produce like fruit before serving.
  • Maintain a 2 metre distance from other people as refreshments are served.

The coronavirus can survive on paper for up to 24 hours. This means it is possible to spread the virus by sharing resources or passing an item from one person to another. Piles of paper that are left out for people to take can still spread the virus. Consider whether the following methods could be used to share information instead:

  • e-bulletins, blogs or emailing information to people for them to print and bring to a setting themselves.
  • Laminating information sheets so that they can be wiped clean between use.
  • Posters on the wall so information can be read without handling paper.

It is recommended that you use equipment that will only be used or touched by one individual.

  • If this is not possible use equipment that can be cleaned after it has been touched, like hard plastic toys.
  • Equipment should be cleaned with normal household disinfectant or warm soapy water before being used by another person.
  • Shared equipment that is more difficult to clean, such as soft toys or toys with intricate parts, should be avoided.

This is an important part of the Government’s recovery plan. It will help us all return to normal ways of working and living as safely as possible. Contact tracing programmes are used frequently in the UK to manage outbreaks of infectious diseases. We know that they work to help prevent diseases spreading.

The COVID-19 NHS Test and Trace programme involves:

  • Testing anyone with symptoms, to find out if they have the virus.
  • If somebody has a positive test result the NHS Test and Trace service will get in touch with them. They will be asked to provide the contact details of people they have been in close recent contact with. (See below for details of who would be classed as a “close recent contact”.)
  • The service will then alert the contacts by email, text or phone and advise them to self-isolate for 10 days. The contacts will not be told who or where they have come into contact with the virus. No details of the person who has had the positive test result are shared at all.
  • The contacts would only need to get tested themselves if they go on to develop symptoms.

It is interested in people who have been in contact with a confirmed case:

  • in the 48 hours before they developed symptoms;
  • or since they developed symptoms.

“Close recent contacts” are those who:

  • Live in the same household.
  • Have had face-to-face contact less than 1 metre away.
  • Have spent 15 minutes or more within 2 metres of the confirmed case.
  • Have travelled in the same car or small vehicle (or close to them on a plane).

If you follow the 2 metre social distancing guidance within your setting you would not be classed as a “close recent contact”. You would therefore not need to self-isolate if somebody visited your setting prior to testing positive for COVID-19. Similarly your colleagues and service users would not be classed as a “close recent contact” if you yourself tested positive.

People who have been fairly near a confirmed case, but are not classed as a “close recent contact”, will not:

  • be contacted by the service;
  • need to self-isolate;
  • be tested (unless they develop symptoms themselves).

If you become aware of a confirmed case in your setting, your organisation is not expected to tell potential contacts. This will be handled by the NHS Test and Trace service.

Your organisation can play its part:

  • Make your settings as safe as possible and keeping 2 metre social distancing.
  • Encourage people who have symptoms of COVID-19 to order a test.
  • Encourage and support staff, volunteers and service users to self-isolate, if they are advised to do so.
  • Keep a temporary record of people who work in and visit your setting each day. This is especially important if your activities mean that it is not possible to keep 2 metre apart. Keep your registers for 21 days and then destroy them securely. Try to avoid record keeping systems that involve shared use of pens or papers.

Remember to keep any information that is shared with you by an individual confidential. Information about the health or test results of a member of staff, volunteer or service user should only be shared with that person’s consent.

If staff, volunteers or service users have to self-isolate there is practical and emotional support available through Calderdale Council’s support hubs. Support can be requested by completing the online support request form or phone: 01422 392890.

For more about this, visit: NHS test and trace: how it works (GOV.UK).

We know that keeping indoor spaces well ventilated will help to reduce the spread of the virus.

  • Keep rooms ventilated by opening windows where it is safe to do so.
  • Consider who will be using the space and what activities will be taking place when deciding which windows to open.
  • If you have an air conditioning system you should set it to use outside air rather than the air recirculation setting wherever possible.
  • There is no need to adjust the temperature setting of indoor spaces.

Meeting and travelling with other people

On all public transport you must travel in groups of no more than 6, or 2 households, unless you are travelling for a reason that is exempt.

You can travel in a group larger than 6 people or 2 households where travel is reasonably necessary to carry out a specific activity. For example, with work, if your employer has organised transport during the course of your work.

Read the guidance on what you can and cannot do for more information about when you can meet in larger groups.

When car sharing, you should only travel in groups of no more than 6 people, or 2 households, unless you are travelling for a reason that is exempt.

You can protect yourself and those you are sharing a car with by:

  • sharing the car with the same people each time and, where possible, only with members of your household or support bubble
  • minimising the group size at any one time
  • opening windows for ventilation
  • travelling side by side or behind other people, rather than facing them, where seating arrangements allow
  • facing away from each other
  • considering seating arrangements to maximise distance between people in the vehicle
  • cleaning your car between journeys using standard cleaning products – make sure you clean door handles and other areas that people may touch
  • asking the driver and passengers to wear a face covering

Organisations who usually operate minibus services should consider whether:

  • The people they usually transport are particularly vulnerable. (For example, do they have medical conditions that make them more vulnerable or are they over 70 years old?)
  • The service would still be viable if 2 metre social distancing measures were put in place.

For more about this, visit: Safer transport guidance for operators (GOV.UK).