Last reviewed 7 July 2020
The Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government (MHCLG) has published information for those managing council buildings in line with the Government’s roadmap to ease the existing measures to tackle Covid-19.
Available at https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/covid-19-guidance-for-the-safe-use-of-council-buildings/covid-19-guidance-for-the-safe-use-of-council-buildings, the guidance applies to all users of council buildings in England including visitors and councillors.
MHCLG stresses that it is not legally binding and recognises that each council will need to apply relevant guidance locally depending on circumstances, including its size and type of activities, how it is organised, operated, managed and regulated.
It notes that many council buildings are also workplaces and links to guidance reminding authorities of their responsibilities as employers.
Help is provided with preparing a Covid-19 risk assessment as these should be completed by each operator of a council building, civic building, town hall or organiser of a civic event.
Under health and safety legislation, failure to complete a Covid-19 risk assessment would constitute a breach, as would having a risk assessment with insufficient measures.
“We continue to recommend that where meetings can take place digitally, without the need for face-to-face contact, they should do so,” MHCLG states. “Where council buildings need to be used for physical meetings, these meetings must be managed within the social distancing guidance and principles set out in the guidance.”
It reminds local authorities in England that they still have powers to hold public meetings virtually by using video or telephone conferencing technology.
Before opening council buildings, operators should think about how to manage pedestrian space, pedestrian movement, queues and traffic, the MHCLG guidance states.
Car parks are permitted to be open where needed and councils should consider practical measures such as changing the car park layout to help people socially distance. Decisions to reopen car parks are to be made locally.