Coronavirus (COVID-19): voluntary and community activities
Within local communities there are many activities organised by volunteers that take place in community centres, church buildings and other shared spaces. They play an important role in bringing communities together however, their communal nature means that they are vulnerable to the spread of COVID-19.
When voluntary or community groups meet, the current regulations will apply. The regulations are available on the Department of Health website:
Community and voluntary organisations also have a duty of care to volunteers, to make sure that, as far as reasonably practicable, they are not exposed to risks to their health and safety.
On 24 May 2021, it became mandatory to wear a face covering when going into or inside the public areas of any enclosed publically-accessible premises, unless you are exempt.
People who work in the public areas of any enclosed publically-accessible premises must also wear a face covering, unless they are separated from members of the public by a partition.
It's not possible to provide guidance for all types of activity, however the information on this page should be used as an overview to help inform decision-making.
The Department of Health published guidance for childcare settings (including playgroups, crèches, summer schemes, daycare and school-age childcare settings):
Before restarting activities you must complete a risk assessment to ensure the risk to volunteers, participants and the wider community can be safely managed.
If you feel your activity cannot be managed in a safe way, you should not re-open until you have put sufficient measures in place.
To determine the maximum number of people permitted to attend an indoor or outdoor gathering, in a non-domestic setting, the organiser or operator must carry out a risk assessment.
Indoor gatherings of 15 people or fewer do not need a risk assessment.
Outdoor gatherings of 30 people or fewer do not need a risk assessment.
There are many practical steps that you can take to minimise the risk of COVID-19 spreading.
You should consider the specific circumstances of your organisation and its activities including its size, how it is organised, operated and managed. For example, whether children or adults are attending.
Types of activity may include:
- youth clubs
- uniformed youth groups
- parents and toddler groups
- Sunday schools
- support groups
- advice services
- recreation or learning activities
Organisations do not have to keep detailed records of attendance for contact tracing purposes. However, these details would help contact tracing if there was an outbreak of COVID-19.
You should consider keeping a temporary record of visitors for 21 days but should seek consent from the visitor beforehand and make sure of compliance with UK General Data Protection Regulations.
Traditionally some organisations may have encouraged participants to sign in using a pen and signing-in sheet. However you should consider a different approach in order to minimise the risk of COVID-19 transmission.
This could involve a group leader signing everyone in themselves, or alternatively, exploring whether a digital method of signing in could be used.
On arrival and departure, everyone, including volunteers, should wash or sanitise their hands.
You should encourage hand hygiene by providing hand sanitiser in multiple locations along with signs and posters.
Indoor venues must adhere to social distancing requirements.
Where possible, you should maintain two metres between people from different households and where two metres is not viable, one metre should be maintained with other risk mitigations in place. You should detail all mitigations in your risk assessment.
When working with children, social distancing will vary depending on ages and stages of development. For instance, how social distancing is implemented for very young children, for children with complex needs or disabilities and for older children will vary.
Time spent in close contact should be kept to an absolute minimum.
It is important to try and minimise mixing. This can be achieved by keeping participants in groups. Multiple groups can use the same shared space if necessary, provided that distancing between the groups can be maintained and there is adequate ventilation.
If parents and children are in attendance, for example at a parent and toddler group, social distancing should be maintained between adults who are not from the same household or in the same bubble.
To support social distancing you should:
- mark frequently used areas with floor tape or paint to help people maintain a two metre distance
- consider how you will manage queues so that the flow of groups in and out of the premises can be carefully controlled in a socially-distanced way, reducing the risk of congestion or contact
- introduce a one-way system with appropriate floor markings
- have clear signage to reiterate social distancing measures in place
- stagger arrival and departure times
- introduce a booking system to help with managing numbers, particularly for activities where demand will be high
As COVID-19 spreads less easily in a well ventilated environment, it is important that the space is well ventilated at all times, for example by leaving doors and windows open, or using outdoor spaces where appropriate.
Further guidance on ventilation can be found at:
Contact with shared surfaces that are frequently touched can increase the risk of infection.
Rooms used for activities and shared spaces, such as doorways, should therefore be cleaned regularly.
Surfaces such as door handles, tables, seats, handrails and toilets should be cleaned regularly with household detergent.
Toilets should be carefully managed with increased frequency of cleaning. Pay close attention to frequently-touched surfaces.
Make sure there is suitable handwashing facilities with running water, liquid soap and suitable options for drying.
Consideration should be given to what resources, toys or other materials are supplied.
To limit the sharing of resources, you could, where possible, divide materials between individuals and keep them in named folders or boxes.
For groups involving children, parents could be asked to bring a small selection of toys for their own child to play with or adults could be asked to take an active role and responsibility in cleaning toys between uses.
It may be necessary to temporarily remove resources such as soft toys that are difficult to clean.
Whether you are providing a cup of tea to a group of adults or a snack to children, there are important steps that you can take to reduce risk.
When providing hospitality, proper hygiene practices must always be observed.
- wash your hands thoroughly before you begin any food preparation
- clean and sanitise as you go
- avoid sharing utensils
- avoid sharing food (such as buffets, sandwiches or family-style meals)
- consider having pre-packaged food such as sandwiches or snacks
- continue to be careful even if using disposable crockery and cutlery: disposable items can lead to a false sense of security and people can forget proper hygiene practices when handling these items
- avoid people congregating around food service areas: if individuals have to queue place markers on the floor to help with social distancing
- make sure food service items are handled with gloves and wash your hands after removing gloves
- make sure all items are washed thoroughly in hot soapy water or in a dishwasher
- use outdoor spaces where possible, if safe and appropriate to do so