I hope you are well.

I promised to keep you up to date on news about children’s parties, but boy it is a minefield.

Yesterday, Action with Communities in Rural England (ACRE, the association for managers and trustees of village halls) updated their guidelines to re-categorise children’s parties at their venues from ‘too risky’ to ‘requires more careful management’, stating that so long as hirers and hall trustees followed the ACRE Covid guidelines to minimise the risk of cross-infection at gatherings in community halls, parties for up to 12 children and their parents could go ahead.

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But following the ACRE Covid guidelines doesn’t mean the instructions in the paragraph above; it means the instructions in the 37-page document here.  As most village halls are cleaned no more than once a week, here is just one paragraph of what the hall hirer will be expected to sign up to:

“You will be responsible for cleaning door handles, light switches, window catches, equipment, toilet handles and seats, wash basins and all surfaces likely to be used during your period of hire before [my emphasis] other members of your group or organisation arrive and to keep the premises clean through regular cleaning of surfaces during your hire, paying particular attention to wash hand basins and kitchen sinks (if used), using either the products supplied (which will be in a clearly accessible location) or your own ordinary domestic products. You will be required to clean again on leaving.”

And behind all this, the government guidelines continue to state that social gatherings should be limited to 30 people from 2 households or 6 people from multiple households. Is a birthday party a social gathering? Or is it an entertainment event? I have written to my MP asking for clarification around the whole area of children’s parties.

I think what is clear is that no one wants to be to blamed for a child, a family, a class or a school catching Coronavirus.  As I’ve said before, my primary concern will always be for the health and happiness of my audiences, not for making money by playing fast and loose with guidelines designed to keep you, me and the public safe.

So until the government makes it clear that the limits on social gatherings (rather than publicly staged theatrical performances or entertainment) have been relaxed, sadly I feel I must continue to limit bookings to gatherings of no more than six people (including me) or for events staged by Covid-secure businesses or organisations. I hope you understand.

Thank you for your continued support. There is no one wants to get Magic Peter back on the road and making kids laugh and smile more than me. Hopefully that day is not too far off.

Look after yourselves, and stay safe.