Government guidance: staying alert and safe social distancing and what this means for charities

Primary interest
Voluntary sector

Following Sunday evening’s announcement from the Prime Minister, the Cabinet Office has produced its plan for recovery from lockdown and this shorter guide: Staying alert and safe (social distancing).

To help charities to easily see what has changed and to identify the impact on their beneficiaries, services, staff and volunteers, we have produced this short summary of key points in the guidance, together with some some follow-on questions for charities to consider, and links to further resources at the end.

Summary of key points in the new guidance
  • There is a continuation of shielding for vulnerable groups (those over 70, pregnant women, those with serious health concerns).
  • From Wednesday 13 May, there will be unlimited opportunity to leave home for exercise and recreation (examples included are sitting in public parks or non-team sports) but this should still only be with members of your own household (or other specific exceptions in the guidance) and whilst maintaining social distancing.
  • Confirmation that individuals may continue to leave home for a medical need, to escape harm or to care for a vulnerable person.
  • Updated list of critical workers who can access schools or educational settings (updated 5 May 2020)
  • Attending funerals is still limited to close family, members or your household or a friend if no-one from their close family is attending.
  • Face coverings are now recommended for enclosed spaces when social distancing is not possible, for example in some shops.
  • Certain businesses and venues must remain closed by law, including: restaurants, cafes (except for take away), pubs, theatres, cinemas, libraries, community centres, youth centres, leisure facilities, playgrounds, places of worship (except for funerals), hotels, etc.
  • Apart from this list, businesses may re-open and individuals can return to work if they cannot work from home. Examples included are: production, construction and manufacturing businesses. Employers must make premises Covid-19 secure, by having measures in place such as two-metre social distancing and facilities for employees to regularly wash their hands.
  • Outdoor sports facilities such as tennis and basketball courts, golf and bowling greens may be used from Wednesday 13 May, but only with one other person from your household and whilst maintaining social distancing.
  • Food retailers, food markets and garden centres may re-open from Wednesday 13 May subject to social distancing measures.
  • You can drive to outdoor publicly accessible places from Wednesday 13 May provided you practice social distancing (in England only).
  • Public gatherings are still limited to two people from the same household (with exceptions in the guidance for families or for essential work purposes).
  • From Wednesday, there will be higher fines for non-compliance for individuals and also for businesses, and businesses operating in contravention of the law will be committing an offence. This will be monitored by Environmental Health and Trading standards.
The impact of this for charities

Most charities will be included within the list of businesses or venues who are not permitted to re-open (unless you are providing essential services such as a refuge). Therefore, such charities should continue to operate as before: adapted services and home-working where possible.

Going forward, charities can start planning for social distancing measures that may be needed in the future for when they re-open. This can form part of your mid-term planning, mapping out different scenarios, for example: will you need to adjust your services to allow for social distancing, how will staff work in the office, will you continue to operate home-working for a period, do you have appropriate hand-washing facilities?

Charities working with vulnerable individuals identified for shielding will need to continue to adapt their services to protect those individuals from exposure to the virus.

Further support and resources
Support from the RVA Advice Service
  • Contact for follow on support if you would like to discuss the impact of the above on your charity and its services in more detail.
  • The RVA Trustee and Manager Survey closes this Thursday, 14 May – if you have yet to complete it, you still have time to let us know what you would most like support with. We’ll be feeding back to you next week on our programme of support based on the answers.