Reopening during a pandemic...tentatively...thank you all for your patience!

We should be able to reopen on a very limited and experimental basis by the end of this coming week

On the basis that perfection is the enemy of progress I’m making a very brief post now so that members will be able to start thinking about and planning for some making – apologies for the lack of communication so far

The front page of our website currently shows this:

We will move it to - 01 EQUIPMENT ACCESS as soon as we can make it safe enough to do so

A lot of work has been put in by a small but committed team, and we’ve identified what needs to be in place for this to happen: we’ll get some posts out calling for volunteers separately (there’s fun stuff and drudgery!)

In the first phase of opening members will be able to book a 3 hour time slot for specific tools/areas – and these will be limited to one or two per member per week in the first instance. Until we’re confident about the systems the max room occupancy of each workshop will be one member (we very much expect this to increase as we test and improve ventilation and air purification)

Please note (some of these present a real challenge for our usual ways of making, and won’t be easy):

  • there will be no storage available: please bring along and take away everything you need
  • single area work only: so plan your making accordingly (think about what’s in the workshop you’re booking a session in). We’re assembling some small boxes of general items for each area (tapes, craft knives etc) as you won’t have access to other areas…suggestions for contents of these very welcome
  • strict 3 hour time slots (we believe this is a reasonable amount of focused making time, and will give access to a broad range of members)
  • masks to be worn at all times while in the workshops. A non-valved mask is mandatory (plus an FFP3 mask if booking the woodshop – this can be valved)
  • booking is 24 hours in advance
  • lone working rules apply: you may need to buddy up to use dangerous tools
  • kitchen will be closed: kettle and microwave will be accessible, and the garden area has been tidied for refreshment breaks
  • everyone will have a COVID-induction prior to using the Space. This will mostly be online after initial trials

We understand that some will find the restrictions frustrating, but we urge members to react imaginatively to the challenges

This will be an iterative process: we want systems in place that work to keep us all safe, and are actually workable for members to achieve fabulous making: we’ll take feedback and real-world experience from this and blend it back in to improving the systems – it certainly won’t be anywhere near perfect at first

A mid-term goal (next fortnight) is to set up some outdoor work benches: we believe this is the safest way to work and remain COVID-safe. At the moment we haven’t got beyond the idea that this would be at lest two flat benches, with weather cover and likely power supplies. If you have any thoughts about how we can make a versatile outdoor workshop then let us know


Great work @Dermot and all involved, much appreciated, and completely agree with the tiered structure and safety measures.

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Many thanks for the hard work in finding a way to make this work!

One question - how will this work in terms of shutter access?

With the number of members on site at one time being necessarily limited, the odds of being able to time a booked slot to coincide with someone with shutter access seems like a potential problem!

Will there be a way of allowing those without shutter access to see when someone with shutter access has already booked in? Or, even better, perhaps some agreed times could be set when the shutter is definitely going to be open?

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A very good question that we don’t yet have an answer for

Having members with shutter access identify themselves (and commit to be there as keyholder for non keyholders) is a good starting point @Courty how easy would this be to add as a button to the booking system?

We’re also encouraging members to buddy up so some of the dangerous gear is accessible

We’ll look at all suggestions and give various ideas a try

The idea of ‘shutter’s up’ periods could tie in well with work on Arch2 – members will be around but not occupying the workshops

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With regards to storage, what if something is already in storage (from pre Covid 19 times)?

We can get it out of storage right?

Yes, it just has to be arranged – you can imagine trying to ensure the Snug is COVID safe for general use…

Great work! Some thoughts/questions - possibly some of this detail would be for the induction…

  • Is the limit one person per space or one household? relevant for parents, people panning to use power tools, etc.
  • good to be explicit that members should not enter before their time slot begins, and must leave by the time it ends - reminder to plan your tidying up time!
  • booking - for clarity - booking must be made a minimum of 24 hours in advance. But can be booked further in advance! Are we making slots available over a certain time frame initially? E.g. 2 weeks ahead?
  • waste - should members be taking all their waste with them as well? Or at least putting it in an external bin themselves?
  • distancing - as there will be times when members are in the same space - ie. entering/exiting/going to bathroom or kettle - do we want to re-iterate a minimum distance between people? E.g… 2 metres

Thank you for this very visual update.

For the preparations there is a whole list of things we need to do to make the space safe and easy to use while still being able to social distance. Right now it is quite a slow process as there is lots to do so we need some helping hands to get it done faster and get the space back up and running. (Albeit, it will be at a slow and steady pace)

We need to do tasks that include decluttering and removing stuff to make space to move around, make signs and PPE related equipment to help with hygiene and do some general maintenance.

Here are a few we need to get done before we can open again:

  • Decluttering the Workspaces
  • Clear out the Snug (This is just continuing from where we left off in March) (The space is needed to store things like kitchen equipment and other things that can’t be used for the time being)
  • Removal of other personal items
  • Making signs for the space to help everyone navigate it safely
  • Installing cleaning equipment and sanitisation stations

There is also the idea to use some of the space outside the arches to build a sheltered seating and working area with work benches but this is not critical for the opening of the space and can happen over the next few weeks/months.