Coronavirus Advice – Updated 1st April 2020

This article contains information on:

  • Coronavirus (COVID-19)
  • General guidance
  • Coronavirus Community Hubs – East Sussex
  • Coronavirus Community Hub – West Sussex
  • Advice for village halls
  • Advice for Good Neighbour Schemes & Community Groups
  • Protecting the isolated & vulnerable
  • Advice for community transport
  • Coronavirus and mental health & well being
  • Guidance from Charity Commission

Our main reference points are is official advice from the UK Government and NHS England

Current information surrounding Coronavirus is constantly changing and therefore Action in rural Sussex recommend that everyone should follow all guidance issued by Public Health England and the NHS and keep abreast of the ever-changing situation.

As of the evening of the 23rd March 2020, the Government has requested that everybody in the UK must stop non-essential contact and stay at home.

Most shops and other premises must now close until further notice.  This includes ‘community centres, youth centres and similar’, with the exception that ‘Facilities may remain open for the purpose of hosting essential voluntary or public services, such as food banks or homeless services’.

Heed the Governments advice

  • Only go outside for food, health reasons or work (where this absolutely cannot be done from home)
  • Stay 2 metres (6ft) away from other people
  • Wash your hands as soon as you get home

Coronavirus (COVID-19)

A Coronavirus is a type of virus. As a group, Coronaviruses are common across the world. 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.

Novel Coronavirus (COVID-19) is a new strain of coronavirus first identified in Wuhan City, China.

The NHS website has more information about how Coronavirus is spread and answers common questions about the virus.

The following symptoms may develop in the 14 days after exposure to someone who has COVID-19 infection:

  • Cough
  • Difficulty in breathing
  • Fever



General Guidance

Common sense is key in a situation like this and there are things you can do to help stop germs like coronavirus spreading:

  • The most common symptoms of coronavirus (COVID-19) are recent onset of a new continuous cough and/or high temperature. If you have these symptoms, however mild, stay at home and do not leave your house for 7 days from when your symptoms started. 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
  • Wash your hands more often than usual, for 20 seconds using soap and hot water, particularly after coughing, sneezing and blowing your nose, or after being in public areas where other people are doing so. Use hand sanitiser if that’s all you have access to
  • To reduce the spread of germs when you cough or sneeze, cover your mouth and nose with a tissue, or your sleeve (not your hands) if you don’t have a tissue, and throw the tissue away immediately. Then wash your hands or use a hand sanitising gel.
  • Clean and disinfect regularly touched objects and surfaces using your regular cleaning products to reduce the risk of passing the infection on to other people

The following sites will give you further information:

Coronavirus (COVID-19): latest information and advice
NHS advice on reducing risk
What to do if you’re asked to self-isolate




East Sussex Coronavirus Community Hubs

What is a community hub?

Community hubs are the contact point that residents of East Sussex can turn to if they:

  • Feel they need extra help in coping with the effects of coronavirus
  • Know someone else who needs help.

Many people will already have the support they need from family, friends, carers or neighbours and will not need their community hub. But it’s vital that no one is left on their own if they feel isolated, unwell or anxious. No one in East Sussex will be left on their own. This is the need community hubs will meet.

Please click here for more information 




West Sussex Coronavirus Community Hub

To find help or volunteer to support others in West Sussex during the pandemic please click here




Advice for Village Halls & Community Buildings

The advice from Government is clear: People should stay at home except for one of the four reasons permitted.

  • Shopping for basic necessities
  • One form of exercise a day
  • Any medical need, or to provide care or to help a vulnerable person
  • Travelling to and from work when absolutely necessary

Therefore, village halls and community buildings MUST close unless there is an essential service operating from the hall e.g pre-school that is open for children of key workers, food bank, medicine delivery – in which case precautions need to be taken – see below.

Village Hall Management Committees running charitable halls have a duty of care in providing a safe facility for the community to use. Therefore, if you are running an essential service and need to remain open, your committee must bear in mind that extra precautions need to be made as your hall may provide services for those groups who are most at risk from the virus.

Precautions include:

  • Take notice of the Government and Public Health England websites and keep up to date with the ongoing situation
  • Visitors to the hall must keep at least 2m distance (6ft) away from each other – If need be mark this distance out so its clear to everyone, especially if you have a queuing system in place
  • Ensure the hall has a one in one out policy
  • Protect your volunteers/staff
  • 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 – one person to use the toilet at a time
  • 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 visitors 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

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.

ACRE are in discussions with the rural team at Defra so that they are fully informed of the issues facing village halls now. Defra are working closely with the Communities Team at the Ministry of Housing Communities and Local Government.

Further information will be supplied to halls once we have confirmation.

Village Hall Insurance

Norris & Fisher statement:

 “Coronavirus Advice for Village Halls

We have received a number of enquiries as to whether Village Halls would be insured should they be forced to cancel activities or if hirers cancel their bookings owing to the coronavirus.  The Business Interruption cover under the policy would not provide cover for this type of loss so there is no insurance for loss of earnings.

This situation will not change – even if the government decide to officially close all community buildings.

Some of our halls have asked their hirers to ensure that, if one of their members is ill, they should not attend the Hall.  Should a visitor have been in contact with anyone suffering from the virus they should self-isolate. If an outbreak were to be traced to the Hall it would not be possible for you to be held liable. However, it may be best to ensure you have a good supply of soap, hand sanitisers and paper towels.

There is an unoccupancy condition on this policy that restricts cover if the period between hirings exceeds 30 consecutive days. However, in light of the current situation Ansvar have agreed to withhold the unoccupancy restrictions and you do not have to inform insurers of unoccupied properties.

This is initially up to 30th June 2020, but this will be reviewed as it is currently unclear when businesses will be able to resume operations.

If your building is no longer occupied this represents a greater risk and it is important that you take measures to protect it.  Insurers have provided guidelines for unoccupied properties to ensure that cover is still provided which can be viewed at www.villagehallinsurance.co.uk/coronavirus

We are not able to offer advice regarding procedures or the cleaning of halls and we would refer you to the National Health Service website for information of this sort: https://www.nhs.uk/live-well/healthy-body/how-to-prevent-germs-from-spreading/

Advice for employers and employees can be found on the ACAS website: https://www.acas.org.uk/coronavirus

We are updating our website as more information becomes available about coronavirus and the effect on your policy.

We are expecting to have to operate with a restricted number of staff over the coming weeks and it would help us if you would send in any urgent enquiries by email rather than telephone”.

Allied Westminster:

Allied Westminster have produced information for their clients. Please click: Vital Insurance Continuity Information For Allied Westminster Clients

Useful Resources

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 Good Neighbour Schemes & Community Groups

AirS Village Agents have put together comprehensive guidance to be used by Good Neighbour Schemes and other such groups, which can be downloaded from here

In addition to this document, please see the recommendations below:

  • 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:
    • Government guidance is to limit the amount of social contact where possible. This is likely to impact large scale events and you should consider whether it is appropriate to continue with your events. If your events depend on volunteers, be aware that some may prefer to stay home
    • Check cancellation policies for venue bookings you’ve made or are about to make
  • Do NOT host face to face meetings, therefore consider:
    • Is the meeting is really essential or can it be cancelled or postponed?
    • Consider electronic alternatives such as Skype, WhatsApp, FaceTime
    • If you are hosting a formal meeting, such as an AGM, NCVO has provided comprehensive advice 




Protecting the Isolated and Vulnerable (Social Distancing)

Neighbourhood Watch has produced comprehensive guidance on protecting the isolated and vulnerable. Please click here

For details on social distancing, please visit PHE




Guidance for Community Transport

The Community Transport Association has produced a document called Coronavirus/COVID-19: Guidance for Community Transport for Community Transport Groups to use. This document includes useful information such as:

  • precautions you should take
  • cleaning your vehicle
  • cancelling services.

Please click here to view.




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:
https://www.nhs.uk/oneyou/every-mind-matters/
https://www.samaritans.org/
https://.mentalhealth.org.uk/publications/looking-after-your-mental-health-during-coronavirus-outbreak
https://www.who.int/docs/default-source/coronaviruse/mental-health-considerations.pdf?sfvrsn=6d3578af_8
https://www.anxietyuk.org.uk/
https://www.who.int/emergencies/diseases/novel-coronavirus-2019




Guidance from Charity Commission

How do I get support to pay my charity staff?
“The government has announced that organisations, including charities, will get support to help them pay wages. Employers will be able to contact HMRC for a grant to cover most of the wages of their workforce who remain on payroll but are temporarily not working during the coronavirus outbreak. Any employer in the country- small or large, charitable or non-profit will be eligible for the scheme”.

Can I use reserves and restricted funds to help my charity through the crisis?
“We understand that many charities are currently very concerned about their financial position. In the first instance, trustees should consider what are their short, medium and longer term priorities, and see if they need to amend their financial planning given their current situation. Trustees are encouraged in particular to think about whether or not certain projects, spends or activities can be stopped or delayed in order to focus on essential spending if they are facing financial challenges at this time.

Reserves can be spent to help cope with unexpected events like those unfolding at present.

You should identify which of your funds or assets have limits on their use. If these are internal only – for example your charity has decided to earmark certain funds for a particular purpose – you may be able to re-prioritise these. If they are restricted funds, meaning they cannot be spent at your (trustees) discretion, then they may only be used for a particular and defined purpose. For example, a fundraising appeal may restrict funds to a specific purpose, or if you have a permanent endowment, it may have restrictions on selling it to release funds.

If there are restrictions, in some instances there may be ways to amend these restrictions, but accessing or releasing restricted funds should only be considered if other options such as reserves are not possible. The Charities Commission encourages you to also carefully consider the wider and longer term impacts of making such a decision on your financial resilience and donor relationships. You should seek professional advice on this if you can. The Commission will be as helpful as possible, and offer what guidance they can.”

Can I cancel or postpone my charity’s AGM or other key meetings?
“Coronavirus is having a major impact on charity events and the government’s health advice may lead to some charities having no choice but to decide to cancel or postpone their AGMs and other critical meetings.

If as trustees, you decide it is necessary to do so, you should record this decision to demonstrate good governance of your charity. This is particularly important if it is not possible to hold your AGM, which may make it difficult for you to finalise your annual reports and accounts.

Wherever possible, we would ask you to try to get your annual reports to us on time. However, where the situation impacts on the completion of annual returns and accounts, charities with an imminent filing date can contact the Commission”.

Can I use video, teleconferencing and the internet in place of face-to-face meetings?
“In the current situation, it is becoming increasingly difficult to hold face-to-face meetings. Some charities have clauses in their governing documents that allow them to meet virtually or to use telephone facilities, so we advise trustees to check their governing document and see if they can make amendments themselves to facilitate changes as to how or when meetings are held.

Where there is no such clause in your governing document and you decide to hold meetings over the phone or using digital solutions, we will understand but you should record this decision and that you have done this to demonstrate good governance of your charity”.

What do I need to report to the Charity Commission?
“Trustees to use their judgement. Charity Commission will continue to prioritise incidents placing individuals at risk, or those with a significant impact”.

Reporting accounts and finances
The Charity SORP has issued updated guidance about what and how to report.

Full guidance from the Charity Commission is here


Stay at home. Protect the NHS. Save lives.

“Supporting rural communities in Sussex to be vibrant and diverse places in which to live and work.”