The Hall was all set to have a limited opening last Autumn, and the Management Committee had made extensive preparations. But of course that didn’t happen due to stringent new pandemic lockdown requirements being imposed. However, over the past few weeks we have indeed opened our doors again – for certain events which are permitted under the current government mandates. First up was the use of the hall as a polling station for the Holyrood election (pictured). The SBC took over the building’s ground floor for the entire week of 3rd-7th May, to allow time for setting up and taking away the necessary booths etc., and to address health considerations. Since then various regular users have been coming back, working with the Management Committee to help keep everyone safe.

There are two phases involved here. On the one hand, a regular Booking Form has to be completed, along with a form detailing the hall’s regular Terms & Conditions. We would have been updating that latter document in any case, had Covid 19 never happened, due to the latest insurance and other regulatory requirements. (In the case of ongoing bookings for the same type of event, the T&C form need be submitted only once.) This process is handled by our Booking Clerk.

On top of that is the phase involving compliance with current anti-Covid mandates, which is handled by our Secretary. Basically, anyone requesting a booking has to confirm that they are willing to accept 1. The Hall’s own Risk Assessment and 2. the Special Terms & Conditions forced on us by Covid. In addition, they have to submit a Risk Assessment for their own particular event or events. (These compliance procedures need be completed only once in the case of ongoing bookings for the same type of event.) Finally, at the end of each and every event the organiser must fill in a NHS Trace and Protect form (copies are available in the hall lobby) by providing contact information for all attendees, together with the times they entered and left the hall.

There’s a lot to do here! But the pandemic has complicated all our lives. And the Booking Clerk and the Secretary are happy to help inquirers navigate the two parallel but related processes. No booking can be finalised until the anti-Covid compliance requirements are met. Needless to say, the safety of the hall’s users, and of members of our community, is the paramount concern.

And it’s quite wonderful being able to welcome at least some people back into the hall! Here is the St Boswells black cat to wish us good luck for a future which, in many ways, remains uncertain.