Slowly does it!

In the last week there has been some excitement in England around the doors of Sheds being able to open. We have been waiting for further guidance and below are relevant ‘snippets’ from the UK’s Governments Frequently Asked Questions and Guidance for the safe use of multi-purpose community centres.

As much as we would like to give you a ‘yes or no’ answer on opening, unfortunately it is not that simple with the differing shapes, sizes and members of Sheds. It is also a challenge to provide clarity across the many levels of guidance that can be interpreted in different ways. We are doing the best we can to provide advice to help you with you making your decisions.

Our reading is that the relaxation of 4th July in England does not fully open the doors yet and you need to take a great level of care, as we are sure you will. There are still restrictions and particularly for people aged over 70 years regardless of health. From the two recent pieces of guidance we have produced relevant ‘snippets for Shedders’.

This information currently refers to England, but as the British Government are following many other countries, it will not be a surprise if some of these approaches are replicated at a later stage in Scotland, Northern Ireland and Wales. UK Territories are also different.

Whilst we have selected relevant snippets it is important to not take one statement in isolation as justification for a particular position.
As we understand from the information we suggest you consider the following:

  • The Landlord / Centre manager has the legal right to accept or refuse the opening of your Shed.
  • Before opening you may wish to check with your Local Council* to avoid a potential challenge later. This will also ensure Sheds are back on their radar!
  • Shedders should avoid contact with anyone outside their household or bubble in the Shed, for example do not share a table or get people to make you a drink who are not in your bubble.
  • Particular care and distancing should be observed by people aged 70 years or over.
  • From the 6th July, Shielding will change – see Source 3.
  • Remember that you do have Shedders under 70 years who may want to open and they can get the working practices of the Shed ready for when it is safer for when rules are relaxed.
  • 2 metres is still the socially distancing distance!
  • Stay Covid Secure – use the Unlocking the Shed as an aid to help you.
  • Smaller numbers in your Shed, opening more days might be the right approach, so consider the number of Shed supervisors you have.
  • Where possible avoid loud noises to reduce the need to shout and do wear face masks.
  • Stay up to date with the Covid19 section on the UKMSA website and your relevant Public Health Agencies.
  • SHEDFEST 2020 will include a session on Unlocking the Shed with special guests from Australia and The Republic of Ireland where Sheds can and are opening.

*It might be a suitable approach to tell them what you think and why, rather than they give you a number of attendees that is pulled out of a hat and you not being comfortable with their answer.

SOURCE 1- https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/coronavirus-outbreak-faqs-what-you-can-and-cant-do/coronavirus-outbreak-faqs-what-you-can-and-cant-do-after-4-july

SOURCE 2- https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/covid-19-guidance-for-the-safe-use-of-multi-purpose-community-facilities/covid-19-guidance-for-the-safe-use-of-multi-purpose-community-facilities

SOURCE 3 – https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/guidance-on-shielding-and-protecting-extremely-vulnerable-persons-from-covid-19/guidance-on-shielding-and-protecting-extremely-vulnerable-persons-from-covid-19

SNIPPETS FOR SHEDDERS – What the UK Government is saying –


‘Moving forward, from 4 July, people will be trusted to continue acting responsibly by following this and related guidance, subject to an upper legal limit on gatherings (as described above). The overwhelming majority of the British public have complied with the regulations, and the wider guidance on how to keep them and their friends and family as safe as possible. Taking this into account, we trust people to continue acting responsibly, and to follow the guidance on what they should and should not do.’

‘You should not:

  • gather indoors in groups of more than two households (your support bubble counts as one household) – this includes when dining out or going to the pub
  • gather outdoors in a group of more than six people from different households; gatherings larger than 6 should only take place if everyone is from just two households
  • interact socially with anyone outside the group you are attending a place with, even if you see other people you know, for example, in a restaurant, community centre or place of worship’

‘1.2 I don’t have to stay at home anymore?

On 19 June, the UK CMOs changed the COVID-19 alert level from level four to level three following recommendation by the Joint Biosecurity Centre. This means that the virus is considered to be in general circulation but transmission is no longer high or rising exponentially. As a result, you are less likely to encounter the virus when you leave your home.

However, when you leave your home, you should follow the guidelines on staying safe outside your home. As businesses reopen and people begin to socialise more regularly, everyone should continue to socially distance from people they do not live with or are not in their support bubble, and should wash their hands regularly. This will help to protect you and anyone you come into contact with and is critical to keeping everyone as safe as possible.

The more people you have interactions with, the more chance the virus has to spread. Therefore, try to limit the number of people you see – especially over short periods of time.

If you or someone in your household or your support bubble is showing coronavirus symptoms, everyone in your support bubble should stay home. If you or a member of your support bubble is contacted as part of the test and trace programme, the individual contacted should stay at home. If that individual becomes symptomatic, everyone in the support bubble must then isolate. This is critical to staying safe and saving lives.

Find out more about meeting people you don’t live with

1.6 Can I start visiting people indoors now?

‘From 4 July, you will be able to meet indoors in groups of up to two households (your support bubble counts as one household). This includes inviting people from one household into your home or visiting the home of someone else with members of your own household. You should continue to maintain social distancing with anyone you do not live with or who is not in your support bubble when doing so.

If you are in a support bubble you can continue to see each other without needing to maintain social distancing.

The more people you have interactions with, the more chance the virus has to spread. Therefore, try to limit the number of people you see – especially over short periods of time. The risk of transmission is also higher indoors, so you should take extra care to stay as safe as possible.’

‘1.7 How many people am I allowed to meet with outdoors?

At present, you are allowed to meet in groups of up to six people who you do not live with or who are not in your support bubble. You are only allowed to meet in groups of more than six people if everyone is a member of the same household or support bubble.

From 4 July, you can continue to meet in a group of up to six people from multiple households, or in a group made up of two households ( your support bubble counts as one household), even if this is more than six people.’

‘There is more information about the guidelines you should follow when meeting people you do not live with here.’

‘1.10 Can I use public transport if I’m seeing friends in a park or going to my parents’ garden?

You should avoid using public transport if you can. You should cycle, walk or drive wherever possible. If you need to use public transport, you should follow the safer travel guidance for passengers.

1.11 Can I share a private vehicle with someone from another household?

You should avoid sharing a private vehicle with anyone outside of your household or support bubble as you will not be able to keep to strict social distancing guidelines. The Department for Transport has provided specific guidance on using private vehicles. Please see their guidance on Private cars and other vehicles for more information on car sharing and traveling with people outside your household group.’

‘1.19 Can I attend an activity club or support group?

Yes, you can. Premises such as activity clubs, community centres and youth clubs can reopen, and will need to follow COVID-19 Secure guidelines. You should only attend these in groups of up to two households (your support bubble counts as one household). We recognise that you may know other people in these venues but you should try to limit your social interaction to your own household or one other, to help to control the virus.’

‘1.25 Can I gather in larger groups for any reason?

You should only be gathering in groups of up to two households (including your support bubble). It is against the law to gather in groups of more than 30 people, except for the limited circumstances to be set out in law. You should observe the guidelines for meeting people wherever possible, and limit your social interaction to your own household or one other (or, outdoors, also a group of up to six people), to help to control the virus.’

‘2. Vulnerable groups, shielding, 70 year olds and over, and care homes

2.1 Does easing restrictions apply to 70 year olds and over?

Yes. However, the advice for those aged 70 and over continues to be that they should take particular care to minimise contact with others outside their household.

If they do go out, they should be careful to maintain distance from others. They and everyone should continue to comply with any general social distancing restrictions.

We know that those aged 70 and over can be absolutely fit and healthy and it’s not the case that everybody over 70 has an underlying disease.

But unfortunately, we also know that as you get older, there is a higher risk of coronavirus infection resulting in more serious disease. Complications and deaths are more common in the elderly, even those without pre-existing conditions.’

Source 2 – Guidance for the safe use of multi-purpose community facilities – SNIPPETS

1. Introduction

Community centres, village halls, and other multi-use community facilities support a wide range of local activity. However, their communal nature also makes them places that are vulnerable to the spread of coronavirus (COVID-19).

This information is for those managing multi-use community facilities. It signposts to relevant guidance on a range of different activities that can take place in these spaces, in line with the government’s roadmap to ease the existing measures to tackle COVID-19…………..

……. The government will allow community centres and other multi-use community facilities to open on 4 July.

Managers of community facilities will have discretion over when they consider it safe to open for any activity permitted by legislation and may decide to remain closed if they are not able to safely follow the advice in the relevant guidance, to make the space COVID-19 secure.

Many community facilities are also workplaces and those responsible for the premises should therefore be aware of their responsibilities as employers. The government is clear that no one is obliged to work in an unsafe workplace.

Organisations also have a duty of care to volunteers to ensure as far as reasonably practicable they are not exposed to risks to their health and safety and are afforded the same level of protection as employees and the self-employed. See government information on coronavirus volunteering and how to help safely. Volunteers and other individuals who are shielding should continue to follow the government’s advice on shielding.

Each community facility should apply relevant guidance listed here, locally, depending on circumstances, including its size and type of activities it hosts, its users, how it is organised, operated, managed and regulated.

You should also consider the security implications of any changes you intend to make as a result of COVID -19.

Any reopening plans should be consistent with:

Anyone with control of non-domestic premises (such as a community centre, village or community hall) has legal responsibilities under health and safety law, and must take reasonable measures to ensure the premises, access to it, and any equipment or substances provided are safe for people using it, so far as is reasonably practicable.

To help decide which actions to take prior to re-opening the building for permitted activity, a COVID-19 risk assessment should be completed, taking account of the core guidance on social distancing and the points set out below. This will be in addition to any risk assessment which is already in place for the community facility. See guidance on completing a risk assessment.’

Users and hirers of a community facility have responsibility for managing risks arising from their own activities when they have control of premises and should take account of any guidance relevant to their specific activity or sector.

2a: Social distancing and capacity

Measures should be in place to ensure all users of community facilities follow the guidelines on social distancing, including strict adherence to social distancing of 2 metres or 1 metre with risk mitigation (where 2 metres is not viable) are acceptable. You should consider and set out the mitigations you will introduce in your risk assessment.

The size and circumstance of the premises will determine the maximum number of people that can be accommodated while also facilitating social distancing. In defining the number of people that can reasonably follow 2 metres distancing (or 1 metre with risk mitigation), the total floorspace as well as likely pinch points and busy areas should be taken into account (e.g. entrances, exits) and where possible alternative or one-way routes introduced.

‘From 4 July, users of community facilities should limit their social interactions to 2 households (including support bubbles) in any location; or, if outdoors, potentially up to 6 people from different households. It will be against the law for gatherings of more than 30 people to take place.’

‘However, premises or locations which are COVID-19 secure will be able to hold more than 30 people, subject to their own capacity limits, although any individual groups should not interact with anyone outside of the group they are attending the venue with – so in a group no larger than 2 households or 6 people if outdoors.’

‘Certain groups of people are at increased risk of severe disease from coronavirus (COVID-19), including all people aged 70 or over. Such individuals are advised to stay at home as much as possible and, if they do go out, to take particular care to minimise contact with others outside of their household.’

‘2f: Noise

All venues should ensure that steps are taken to avoid people needing to unduly raise their voices to each other. This includes – but is not limited to – refraining from playing music or broadcasts that may encourage shouting, including if played at a volume that makes normal conversation difficult. This is because of the potential for increased risk of transmission – particularly from aerosol and droplet transmission.

We will develop further guidance, based on scientific evidence, to enable these activities as soon as possible. You should take similar steps to prevent other close contact activities – such as communal dancing.’

3. Permitted activities in multi-use community facilities: signposting to relevant guidance

Community facilities such as community centres and village halls are used for a wide range of local activities and services – from childcare provision to hosting social and recreational clubs. In line with the government’s recovery roadmap, different activities are subject to specific reviews and guidance on when and how they are permitted to resume. Where a premises delivers a mix of services, only those services that are permitted to be open should be available.

Those managing community facilities, and those using community facilities for the following activities, should take account of the relevant guidance below:

3b: Voluntary sector and other service provision

Community facilities are currently able to open for essential voluntary activities and urgent public services, such as food banks, homeless services, and blood donation sessions. Any provision should be conducted in line with the core principles of social distancing and shielding for clinically vulnerable people set out above.

3c: Recreation, leisure and social gatherings

From 4 July, clubs or groups that use community facilities can begin to meet again and facility managers should follow these COVID-19 secure guidelines to facilitate that.

Premises or locations which are COVID-19 secure will be able to hold more than 30 people, subject to their own capacity limits, although any individual groups should not interact with anyone outside of the group they are attending the venue with – so in a group no larger than 2 households or 6 people if outdoors.

People meeting in a club or group context at a community centre should be encouraged to socially distance from anyone they do not live with or who is not in their support bubble. In general, people are being advised to only:

  • meet indoors in groups of up to 2 households
  • meet outdoors in a group of no more than 2 households (including your support bubble) or in a group of up to 6 people from different households.

‘3d: Meetings and civic functions

We continue to recommend that where meetings can take place digitally without the need for face-to-face contact, they should continue to do so. Where community facilities need to be used for physical meetings, these meetings should be managed within the social distancing guidance and principles set out above.’

The principles set out in the ‘Safer workplaces’ guidance apply….’


From 6 July, the government will be advising:

  • you may, if you wish, meet in a group of up to 6 people outdoors, including people from different households, while maintaining strict social distancing
  • you no longer need to observe social distancing with other members of your household
  • in line with the wider guidance for single adult households (either an adult living alone or with dependent children under 18) in the general population, you may from this date, if you wish, also form a ‘support bubble’ with one other household. All those in a support bubble will be able to spend time together inside each other’s homes, including overnight, without needing to socially distance

From 1 August the government will be advising that shielding will be paused. From this date, the government is advising you to adopt strict social distancing rather than full shielding measures. Strict social distancing means you may wish to go out to more places and see more people but you should take particular care to minimise contact with others outside your household or support bubble. In practice this means that from 1 August:

  • you can go to work, if you cannot work from home, as long as the business is COVID-safe
  • children who are clinically extremely vulnerable can return to their education settings if they are eligible and in line with their peers. Where possible children should practise frequent hand washing and social distancing
  • you can go outside to buy food, to places of worship and for exercise but you should maintain strict social distancing
  • you should remain cautious as you are still at risk of severe illness if you catch coronavirus, so the advice is to stay at home where possible and, if you do go out, follow strict social distancing