COVID-19 - Guidance on reopening of Community Centres in Northern Ireland

On 2 July the Executive agreed a forward work plan for bringing forward easements of the Health Protection Regulations, to include Community Centres. The relaxation date for the reopening of Community Centres was agreed as 29 July 2020.

Community Centres will operate in a new and challenging world when they begin to emerge from COVID-19. Their communal nature also makes them places that are vulnerable to the spread of coronavirus (COVID-19).

Central to this proposal to relax restrictions, will be the application of social distancing and hygiene practices to help ensure the transmission of the virus is minimised.

Important also that that this guidance should be considered alongside other guidance (for example guidance relating to the operation of leisure facilities) depending on the activities taking place within Community Centres.

Guiding Principles

The approach taken to re-opening of Community Centres is subject to the following key guiding principles.

  • Progress on re-opening will depend on controlling the rate of transmission
  • Social distancing measures will be strictly adhered to
  • Employers have a duty to assess and manage risks to safety in the workplace, and need to be aware of the concerns of staff returning to work.

Key restrictions / mitigations

The following key mitigations will apply;

  • Arrangements must be in place to ensure that all users and staff in Community Centres strictly adhere to guidelines on social distancing. A risk assessment should be carried out to determine the maximum capacity in relation to current social distancing guidelines. It should also identify points of high risk in terms of the potential spread of Covoid-19 in the building and the mitigating actions to address the identified risks
  • Making use of multiple exit and entry points: to introduce a one-way flow in and out of the premises, with appropriate floor markings or signage. Any changes to entrances, exits and queues should take into account the need to make reasonable adjustments for those who need them, such as people with disabilities
  • The number of people able to use a facility at a given time may be reduced to strictly comply with current social distancing regulations
  • Additional measures will be introduced to help protect staff who work in the venue, to include the installation of protective screening, and the availability of protective masks
  • Guidance on Social Distancing and good hygiene will be clearly displayed throughout the venue
  • A booking arrangement will be in operation to help control the number of customers in the venue at a given time
  • Enhanced cleaning/hygiene measures will be introduced, to include arrangements for cleaning all equipment/ and facilities. The arrangements should include adequate time for cleaning between bookings
  • Customers may be required to queue before entering the venue to ensure numbers do not exceed the capacity for compliance with social distancing regulations
  • Events such as Concerts / theatre are not permitted to take place in a council run Community Centre as part of this proposed easement.
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