Covid-19 regulations for community groups
What your group is allowed to do during Covid-19, Winter 2020/21
This information sheet covers:
The government has announced a national lockdown for England, from 5th January 2021. Links to government guidance and the full lockdown regulations can be found at the end of this information sheet.
This information sheet was last updated on: 28th January 2021
The new lockdown regulations mean that people must not leave or be outside of their homes except where they have a ‘reasonable excuse’. You are not allowed to meet with friends or family outside of your household or support bubble to socialise. You may meet one other person from outside your household or support bubble to exercise, once a day.
However, some specific activities are still permitted, which mean that your community group can still organise some in-person activities for larger numbers of people and provide services for certain groups of people.
The exemptions are:
- Voluntary or charitable services
- Support for disabled or vulnerable people
- Support groups
- Outdoor sport for disabled people
- Childcare, children’s activities and youth work
- Children under school age or people dependent on round-the-clock care
- Community Centres and places of worship
- Covid-safe gatherings
You are permitted to leave your home to provide voluntary or charitable services, or to access these services, where they cannot reasonably be provided by people working from home.
Gatherings of more than two people are permitted for the purposes of providing voluntary or charitable services.
You are permitted to leave your home to buy food, run errands or provide care for someone outside your household who is disabled or who is defined as ‘vulnerable’ in the regulations. This includes everyone aged over 70, anyone who is pregnant and anyone with an underlying chronic health condition.
Your community group is allowed to bring together up to 15 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 15 people participating in a support group plus two volunteers running it.
Your group is allowed to continue to organise outdoor sport for disabled people. You must ensure that you follow the Covid-19 guidance from the relevant national body for your sport. A list of national bodies for England can be found here.
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 15 people.
General youth clubs will have to stop running during the period of national lockdown.
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.
Community buildings can open for:
- essential voluntary activities or urgent public support services (including the
provision of food banks or other support for the homeless or vulnerable people, blood
donation sessions or support in an emergency)
- education or training
- support groups
- childcare provided by a person registered under Part 3 of the Childcare Act 2006
- supervised activities for children
Places of worship are allowed to open for Covid-safe services and life events, and to host the activities listed above for community buildings.
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
- 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
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.
New national lockdown restrictions from 5th Jauary 2021:
Keeping volunteers safe:
Covid-19 Secure guidelines: