New Gov guidelines mention 1m distance with risk mitigations. Any thoughts on that?
The updated government guidelines have eased the 2m social distancing where other mitigations have been implemented, what this means in practical terms, if you have made face coverings mandatory, if you have improved the ventilation of your building and maybe following some of the other recommendations that make the environment safer, then you can bring the social distancing down to 1m, but only if those other measures are in place, the onus is on the venue manager to make the decision on whether they feel they have put in enough mitigations to go for 1m.
What do the guidelines say about hiring halls?
See below from the place of worship guidance updated for 4th July
The guidance also covers premises when being used for religious gatherings, even when their primary purpose is not for religious gatherings, such as a community centre. These premises will only be able to be used where they are permitted to be open and additional guidance may be applicable.
Also section 3g in the Community centre guidelines, which is ‘religious gatherings’ in a community centre, that is left empty, referring back to the main guidance, which leaves it open to some interpretation, we will seek further clarity.
Although they have detailed ‘social gatherings’ in section 3c, linked below: 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
In this section it strongly advises community centres not to facilitate large gatherings, although have still allowed it, and we quote “We recognise the importance of social clubs for some individuals and recommend that these can proceed with caution in venues that have been made COVID-19 secure.”
So to summarise currently the guidance has not allowed religious gatherings to take place in community centres/halls, although you can gather for social reasons in a hall if its ‘covid secure’ using its own capacity level.
What is the COVID.19 risk assessment? Is there an official template?
There is no official COVID-19 Risk assessment form, however the Health & safety executive have provided a few examples which can be used,
Is the government offering financial support to religious places of worship… to help to ensure Covid19 compliance?
The Government is most certainly helping charities through grants & loans, also businesses and charities
have also offered a number of grants. Majlis e Ulama e Shia (Europe) has already published a document produced by an accountant which lists all of the main schemes. Download > Covid-19 Financial Support
What about guidance on outdoor events, open grounds, etc.?
This guidance does not cover public parks, private homes, cultural sites or other open spaces, such as woodlands which may be used for religious purposes. If people do want to engage in worship in these spaces, then the guidance relevant to that place should be adhered to. At this stage, from the guidance we have reviewed, large gatherings for religious purpose are allowed if the place is deemed ‘covid-secure’
What about outdoor Jaloos?
Based on current guidelines meeting more than 6 people in a gathering is not legal even outside. Although there are allowances for life events like marriage for up to 30 attendees, and allowance for more than 30 at places of worship if their new COVID-19 secure capacity allows them too.
However we should watch for updates on this, if we find any change of scenario we will update in our weekly newsletter Insha’Allah Capacity Calculator: Where it says overall building sqm, is it for the entire building including all the different halls, or is it per room basis? You can run this for each room separately, or add up all of the room area to know the overall capacity.
What about Amaal of Muharram, can they be done online?
Yes they can be done online (Confirmed via Maulana Niaz Hussain Naqvi) I’m assuming we also need a designated passage way duck taped to the floor for speakers going and coming from the front of the hall to deliver their speeches. That is a good idea; avoiding any face to face contact will lower the risk.
Which platform would you recommend and What are other centres using?
Majlis e Ulama e Shia (Europe) do not recommend any specific tool, however we have found Zoom to be useful and caters for most of our programmes, it is low priced, lots of options to manage and easy to use for participants. Streaming to YouTube and Facebook both are safe, and are being used by many centres across the UK.
Will MUS support organisations in this unique opportunity to have parallel programmes online?
inshallah MUS have already provided training and will look to provide further training for using zoom for Majlis, also if centres require speakers/scholars, they can contact MUS so that we can advise you or provide you with reciters that we know are available and willing to read over the internet. MUS will also be doing online kids programme during Muharram and share kids activities for the 10 days as well Insha’Allah