The UK Hackspace Foundation would like to provide some guidance to hackspaces in the UK on the ongoing coronavirus (COVID-19) situation.
We aim to update this guidance frequently as the situation progresses. This document was last updated on 24 March 2020.
In line with the UK government guidance released on 23 March, which asks “all non-essential premises must now close”, we strongly recommend that all hackspaces in the UK close completely as soon as possible, if they have not already done so.
Although hackspaces are still not being legally forced to close at this time, we are in a period of exceptionally fast growth of this disease in the UK, and anything we do can make a big difference to our health service over the coming weeks. Closing hackspaces is the right thing to do in these circumstances.
We expect further legal restrictions to be introduced once the Coronavirus Bill has been passed.
Spaces should not consider re-opening until there is evidence that the rate of deaths from this disease has fallen significantly. We suspect this is not likely to be before the end of April.
Rapid Manufacturing of Medical Equipment
We are aware of many projects to 3D-print, or otherwise fabricate, medical equipment which is in short supply. We do not discourage hackspaces from doing this, but they should thoroughly evaluate the risks and benefits of doing so. This should include:
- Verifying that there is a genuine local medical need for such items, and ensuring that they are appropriate for this need.
- Allowing access to hackspaces only for this purpose, and considering the risk posed by people travelling on public transport.
- Restricting the number of people physically present to an absolute minimum; design work can be done remotely.
- Ensuring that those people physically present are at a low risk of serious complications from COVID-19.
More information on this can be found here:
We hope that, at least in the short term, spaces will not see a significant drop in membership payments. Compared to other businesses, hackspaces with no staff will be in a better position.
Spaces which are in receipt of Small Business Rate Relief will be eligible for a grant of £10,000, which will be delivered through local authorities in April.
The UK Hackspace Foundation will keep a close eye on the situation and we are prepared to provide funding to support spaces if it becomes necessary. We will provide more details on this as the situation develops.