First published 3 Juy 2020

There will be a partial opening of the Mechanics from the 15 July 2020, with limited invited users for the first two days as new protocols are started and tested.  Coming to the Mechanics will be a new experience for everyone, users and volunteers alike.

Firstly, the only activity that will be available will be the use of Mi’Café which will have reduced opening hours and a reduced menu.  The reduced menu will be published shortly.  The café will be open from 10 a.m till 2 p.m.  There will be a maximum stay of two hours at busy times and numbers that can use the three ground floor rooms for the café will be limited.

These are difficult times which have resulted in difficult decisions being made. 

he overriding factor is that if we all comply with the protocols put in place to keep everyone safe and reduce the risk of cross contamination and spread of the virus then we will be able to keep the building open.  If users will not do what is necessary then they will be refused access to the building and if the number of non-compliance is such that we are unable to keep users and volunteers safe, then the Mechanics will close.

Social Distancing and Transmission

A lot of time and thought has gone into a detailed Risk Assessment (available to read below) that has resulted in the opening of the Mechanics, but with changes as to how we function.  There are two tasks that impact heavily on how we do things and how users will be able to use the building; social distancing and transmission of the virus.

Social Distancing.  While there has been a relaxation of the distancing rules our view is very much that operationally we will stick as close to 2 metres throughout the building as a norm wherever possible.  Where users are not facing each other then that distance may be reduced slightly, every seating position in the cafe areas has been assessed and agreed as fit for purpose without compromise to other users or volunteers.  Users are asked when entering or leaving the building they pass other users with due haste and do not stand talking or generally have any close social conversations. 

As cruel as this is, it is being done for safety reasons and must be applied without negotiation.   

Virus Transmission.  What we know is that the virus, which cannot be seen by the naked eye, is virulent and very easily spread from person to person, hand/face contact is the quickest passage for contamination to make someone ill – the absolute last thing we want.

The rules that are in place are set down and must be adhered to, to reduce contact to contact and spread of the virus.  What this means is that we will reduce so far as is practically possible anything which would normally have been handled by more than one person.  Sauce bottles, gone.  Salt and pepper pots, gone.  Sugar bowl and milk jug, gone.  Menus, gone. Selecting your own cutlery, gone.  We will ensure you have everything you need in the café, but how you get it will be different.

Everything is about socially distancing people from other people and making sure possible touch to touch surface cross contamination is reduced so far as is possible which is why you will need to sanitise at the start of your visit.

Arrival and seating

When you arrive the first inner door will be locked.  A sensor will ring a chime internally to let whoever is volunteering on that day know you are there. Please wait at the door.  If someone is there already, then you should wait at the main door until they have gone through, two people (unless of the same household) cannot go through together.

When the volunteer opens the locked door you will immediately need to sanitise your hands.  This is without exception and must be done for you to use the cafe.

You will be taken to a table and chair in one of the three ground floor rooms, where available you will have a choice of where to sit, but it must be at one of the designated, socially distanced tables.  You will not be allowed to move chairs to to sit with friends.  This may seem harsh, but it is the only way we can ensure we keep the building functional in as safe a way as is possible for all users and volunteers.

On your first visit you will be handed a leaflet giving you information about how things work and the new ways of doing things.  When you have read the leaflet, it should be taken home to further read or disposed of in the bin that will be alongside each table.  It must not be passed to another person.

If you have a coat with you, umbrella, hat and gloves, shopping bag or anything else, this must stay with you.  You cannot hang it in the cloaks hanging area.


The volunteer who has taken you to your seat will take your order for drinks and food, there will be no counter service for the time being.  Your drink and food will be brought to you and served from a tray. You will be asked to take your own plate, drink, cutlery and any condiments from the tray which reduces transmission and the number of people handling individual items.  When you finish your meal, you will be asked to load the tray prior to the volunteer removing it, you must not clear your own table.

Condiments will be served in sachets for what is required, as will sugar.  Milk will be served in a single use jug that will be washed and sterilised once used by one person, again following the ethos of reducing contact with as many things as possible.

The WC’s will be closed for use by anyone other than users attending the café.  What is asked is that you leave the WC areas clean after use.  There will be cleaning materials available to you in each WC in each facility.   

You must ensure that prior to using the WC you sanitise your hands before entry and, on leaving you wash your hands for twenty seconds followed by again sanitising as you come back to café areas.  Again, this will be insisted upon to ensure that we reduce the risks of any cross contamination and spread of the virus.

Leaving the Building

To leave the building you will follow the one-way route through the café and leave by the disabled door to the side.  Arrangements will be made for you if you are a user who struggles walking.

If you would like to read our Risk Assessmnt, then please feel free to download a copy below. Please note copyright remains with Eccleshill Community Association Ltd.