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Residents urged to adhere to social distancing, as infection rate yet to level off, and trading standards warn shoppers

Published: Friday, 15th May 2020

Residents are being urged to continue to adhere to social distancing and public health guidance, as the infection rate in the city is yet to level off, and trading standards teams warn shoppers.

Residents are being urged to continue to adhere to social distancing and public health guidance on the coronavirus, as the infection rate in the city is yet to level off, and trading standards teams respond to businesses who say some customers are ignoring the rules.

Stoke-on-Trent City Council is encouraging people to be vigilant against the disease, and is advising that at the current trend, infection rates in the city are expected to plateau towards the end of next week.

The infection rate in the city last night (Thursday) stood at a rate of 256 per 100,000 people, with the West Midlands rate at 261 per 100,000 people and the England rate at 251 per 100,000 people. Stoke-on-Trent has moved from having the second lowest infection rate out of 14 West Midlands authorities, to having the seventh highest infection rate. Nationally, there were 233,151 confirmed Covid-19 cases at the end of the day on Thursday (14 May), with 654 cases in the city.

Council leader Abi Brown said: “Our infection rate had been much lower than other areas of the West Midlands for some time, but is now reaching a level in keeping with a city of our population density and demographics. We have to be realistic about this – the infection is following a similar pattern to its spread in London and then Birmingham, as it impacts on different parts of the country. We also have to remember that behind each figure is a resident that is suffering as a result of this dreadful disease.

“It is a time to continue to be vigilant. We all need to adhere to social distancing measures, abide by the law that public gatherings of more than two people from different households are prohibited and to continue to thoroughly wash our hands and follow the national health advice for self-isolation if you have any symptoms of Covid-19. Nationally, lockdown restrictions have been eased a little, but this is not an excuse to flout the guidelines. If we all continue to follow the rules, as people from right across the city have done so well since the lockdown began in March, our rate of infection will start to plateau in the next week to 10 days, and then fall. Please play your part to avoid unnecessary spread of infection – every death that comes from this virus is one death too many.

“We will continue to monitor the situation extremely closely and all responsible authorities across the city and wider area are united in making our collective response to the coronavirus our primary concern. Our ongoing response to the outbreak will be managed very carefully, with the needs of residents and our staff who deliver important public services utmost in our minds.”

Over the past four days, the authority’s public protection teams have received 21 new complaints from members of the public concerned about how premises are responding to the coronavirus restrictions. It has resulted in visits to 16 premises to check if they are closed or otherwise legally trading, visits to 18 premises to ensure they have social distancing measures in place and advice given to 21 businesses.

Visits have resulted in:

  • Community protection warnings issued to an oatcake shop where customers were waiting for orders but not socially distancing; and a florist who thought that she could open because garden centres could open – the florist was ordered to close.
  • Support being given to businesses to make sure they can trade where they are legally able to do so.
  • Talks given to larger employers to advise on how they can implement social distancing.

Councillor Brown said: “The vast majority of businesses are continuing to follow the health guidelines and rules on social distancing. However, we are finding that shops are doing their best to operate with social distancing in place, but some shoppers are ignoring it. It is critical that people continue to follow the social distancing guidelines if we are to defeat this disease.”

From Monday (18 May) grass cutting will increase in all areas including highway and other verges, housing estates, and in cemeteries. In line with safety guidance, and to manage the growth, grass cutting will only take place that can be done using a sit on or sit in mower to reduce the length of grass or through strimming. Some strimming will take place on smaller plots where a sit on/in vehicle cannot operate. Push mowers will not generally be used in this initial phase and weed killing will then follow.

Councillor Brown said: “We are asking people to please bear with us as it will take time to catch up given the number of weeks that the grass cutting has not been in place while we were prioritising critical services in the ‘Stay at Home Response’ phase of the pandemic. Naturally long grass can take longer to cut. Social distancing will continue to be maintained following the government guidelines to make sure both staff and residents remain safe.”

Meanwhile, the city’s two household waste and recycling sites will continue to both be open over the weekend, with stringent restrictions in place and households encouraged to only visit if their journey is essential.

The Hanford tip site will be open 8am-4pm on Saturday and Sunday, and the Federation Road, Burslem tip site will be open 9am-4pm. Motorists are advised that there will continue to be traffic management measures in place at both sites and that queues are expected to be lengthy, for up to two hours.

A one-way system will continue to be in place for the Burslem site, with access to the tip only from the direction of Westport Road. The junction of Scotia Road and Federation Road is closed for vehicles entering Federation Road, except for council crews accessing the tip and access to housing. The council has worked with utility company Cadent to suspend the gas maintenance works in Scotia Road, to support motorists leaving the site. Cadent will return to complete their works on Wednesday and Thursday next week, when the tip is closed.

Councillor Brown said: “The Burslem tip site opened for the first time again today and has been busy, with maximum queue lengths of more than 30 cars. Our crews are managing traffic between the two sites, and if necessary, can direct vehicles to the other site if it is quieter there.

“We continue to stress that people should only visit the tips if it is absolutely essential. We have found that people are taking longer to unload than anticipated. If people are able to unload more quickly, it will result in less of a queue time.”

The restrictions at the tip sites are:

  • Anyone who is self-isolating or has Covid-19 symptoms must not visit either site.  
  • If you have waste that you suspect of being or is contaminated with Covid-19 material, please ensure that is bagged twice and has been isolated for at least 72 hours before bringing it to the site.       
  • There will be a strict limit to the number of vehicles allowed on site at any one time.
  • Only one person will be permitted per vehicle. Where younger children can’t stay at home, they will be allowed to travel in but they must not get out of the car.       
  • Only cars will be admitted. No trailers or vans of any sort will be allowed. This will be continuously under review.           
  • Only bring items that you can safely load and unload yourself.       
  • Site staff will be unable to assist with unloading vehicles. Only one visit will be allowed per day, and registration numbers will be recorded.           
  • No trade or commercial waste will be accepted.      
  • Asbestos, oils and paints will not be accepted. They will need to be stored safely at home until we're able to safely process them. We will publicise when we are able to accept these materials.          
  • Visitors must respect the strict two-metre rule both from staff and other site users.            
  • Access will be by car only. Walking-in of waste will not be allowed.
  • Use of the sites is restricted to Stoke-on-Trent residents only.
  • Handheld devices will be passed into cars for payment, with PPE being used.       

For more information and advice on coronavirus (Covid-19) please visit Public Health England:

https://publichealthmatters.blog.gov.uk/2020/01/23/wuhan-novel-coronavirus-what-you-need-to-know/ and the NHS: https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/coronavirus-covid-19/.

All residents are reminded about the critical importance of regular handwashing with soap and hot water for 20 seconds. The significance of this action cannot be underestimated.

For more information on digital services, visit www.stoke.gov.uk, download the MyStoke App, or follow the city council’s social media channels.