New ‘Rules of 6’ Law: What Does it Mean for the Sector in Kirklees?

***URGENT UPDATE AS OF 1PM ON FRIDAY 18TH SEPTEMBER, 2020***

The Government has announced that the whole of Kirklees will be going back into local lockdown, from Tuesday 22nd September 2020.  This means that (from 12am Monday night/Tuesday morning) people from different households in Kirklees will no longer be able to socialise and mix in houses and gardens. 

Local Lockdown Plus New Rule of 6

This is combined with the new ‘Rule of 6’ Law (see below for more information) outside of those settings.  Kirklees Council also have their own policy preventing local gatherings of over 30 people.

 

What has changed from Monday 14th September?

The new ‘Rule of 6’ laws that came into force on Monday have created more confusion for third sector organisations, particularly those who were in the process of re-opening community groups and buildings.  TSL Kirklees has been looking into the new rules on your behalf and trying to get some clarification on what this means for the sector across Kirklees and how the charitable, voluntary and community groups are affected, and what you need to consider.

We hope to have more information over the next few weeks, and plan to be able to address your concerns and answer questions at our next People Helping People Network meeting on 13th October at 1pm.  We’d already planned that this session would look at issues around the re-opening and running of early years groups and activities (as requested at our last PHP meeting), and we will have experts from the Chestnut Centre and Kirklees Council who will be able to answer your questions.  We’re now also looking into having experts who can answer questions and give advice on the new laws.

In the meantime, if you have issues or queries, please get in touch and we will do our best to help.

 

The New Laws

Here’s what we know so far:

  • The new law says:

    Limits on the number of people you can see socially have changed. From Monday 14 September, when meeting friends and family you do not live with (or have formed a support bubble with) you must not meet in a group of more than 6, indoors or outdoors. This is against the law and the police will have the powers to enforce these legal limits, including to issue fines (fixed penalty notices) of £100, doubling for further breaches up to a maximum of £3,200.

  • However, there are a number of exceptions to this that potentially apply to our sector, including:
    • for work, or the provision of voluntary or charitable services

    • registered childcare, education or training

    • supervised activities provided for children, including wraparound care, youth groups and activities, and children’s playgroups

    • providing support to a vulnerable person

    • providing emergency assistance, and to avoid injury or illness or to escape risk of harm

    • elite sporting competition and training

    • organised sport or exercises classes or licensed outdoor physical activity. This does not include informal sport or fitness activity with family or friends – this must be limited to a group of 6

    • support groups – formally organised groups to provide mutual aid, therapy or any other form of support. This includes support to victims of crime, recovering addicts, new parents, people with long-term illnesses, those facing issues relating to their sexuality or gender, and those who have suffered bereavement.

  • In addition, the guidance for multi-purpose community facilities says:
    • 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. 

    • It is against the law for people to gather in a group of more than six, whether indoors or outdoors, unless covered by an exemption.

    • Community facilities following COVID-19 Secure guidance can host more than 6 people in total, but no one should visit or socialise in a group of greater than 6. 

    • Informal or formal adult social groups, clubs and activities can gather in groups no greater than 6 in adherence to social distancing rules. However, for activities where there is a significant likelihood of groups of six interacting, and therefore breaking the law, should not  take place in a community facility.

    • Support groups ( such as victim support and mental health groups) can take place in gatherings of any number (subject to capacity) in a COVID-19 secure community facility if organised by a business, a charitable, benevolent or philanthropic institution or a public body to provide mutual aid, therapy or any other form of support to its members or those who attend its meetings.

    • If partaking in permitted activities users of COVID-19 secure community facilities should limit their social interactions with anyone they do not live with.

    • A risk assessment should determine the maximum capacity of a hall or hire space while able to maintain social distancing according to the relevant guidelines.

    • …for activities and social groups where there is a significant likelihood of groups mixing and socialising ( and where it will be difficult to prevent mingling and therefore breaking the law) should not take place in a community facility. These may include but are not limited to:

      • formal or informal clubs and hobby clubs (e.g. women’s institute, veteran’s associations, freemasons, sewing clubs, book clubs, crafts clubs, reading groups)

      • amateur choirs and orchestras

      • informally organised sport activities on facilities grounds (professionally organised sport activities are exempt)

  • For 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.

 

Additional Guidance from the National Council for Voluntary Organisations (NCVO)

Our Volunteer Development Manager, Becky Bracey has been asking NCVO for some further guidance and they have said:

Formally organised support groups (organised by a business, a charitable, benevolent or philanthropic institution or a public body) are exempt from the 6 people rule  which says:

“This includes (but not limited to) support to victims of crime, recovering addicts, new parents, people with long-term illnesses, those facing issues relating to their sexuality or gender, and those who have suffered bereavement.”

Whereas social groups as listed in 3c are not.

The distinction in this context is primarily between support groups and social groups i.e. support groups are providing an essential service on issues related to health, wellbeing, whereas social groups such as hobby groups are not.

 

Differences for Areas of Kirklees with Local Lockdown Restrictions

Kirklees Council has given this additional guidance for those areas with additional local restrictions:

…if you live in an area subject to local restrictions however we continue to advise that you should not:

  • socialise with people you do not live with, unless they’re in your support bubble, in any public venue. This applies to inside and outside of the affected areas. Examples of public venues include pubs, restaurants, cafes, shops, places of worship, community centres, leisure and entertainment venues, or visitor attractions and parks

  • visit friends or family in care homes, other than in exceptional circumstances. Care homes should restrict visits to these circumstances

The rule of 6 doesn’t apply to local restriction areas so community centres within the affected areas should take steps to ensure people do not socialise with people they do not live with, in line with COVID-19 secure guidance. As always risk assessment is key; it is acknowledged that this might mean its not viable to open. Nurseries running from community centres are subject to the government guidance on early years settings.

This means that most community venues in local lockdown areas will probably not be able to open unless they run a nursery or other early years provision, or a business from the premises.  However the council is encouraging everyone to read section 3 of the guidance for community buildings.

More details about the new guidance, risk assessment template and details about the new Government support grants for businesses affected by local lockdowns can be accessed below.

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