Residents are being urged to safely enjoy the easing of lockdown restrictions this weekend by following health guidance and planning ahead.
A national relaxing of the coronavirus restrictions will see pubs, bars, restaurants and a number of other businesses and venues open again in the city from tomorrow (Saturday). Stoke-on-Trent City Council is encouraging people to plan their journeys and consider their activities in line with public health advice.
Council leader Abi Brown said: “It is really welcome news that our city continues to recover from the restrictions, and our warmest wishes are with businesses again who are able to reopen after such a long and difficult few months.
“We all need to have at the front of our minds that the threat of the coronavirus is still very real. We all need to continue to behave in the responsible manner in which people across the city have done since the outbreak of this horrible disease.
“More businesses are reopening, but things will be very different to what people are used to as licenced premises are required to operate in line with current Covid-19 guidance.”
Residents who are looking to go out are advised to consider the following safety advice:
- Think about how you’re getting there and back. There will be taxis but there may be limited numbers and train and bus times may be different. Plan in advance. Arrange for someone to pick you up if you can.
- Check whether the pubs you want to go to are open. Not all of them will be open this weekend. Those that are will probably be taking pre-bookings only. Have a think about where you want to go and have a plan beforehand.
- Payments – nearly all venues will be taking contactless payments.
- Take your face covering and hand sanitiser. Some places may not let you in if you don’t have a face covering and you’ll need one if you’re using public transport or a taxi.
- Keep your distance and wash your hands regularly. This is still the most important way to stay safe, and where possible continue to keep two metres apart.
Councillor Brown said: “As part of the reopening, people will be asked to give their details to venues. This is to allow for test and trace and must be adhered to or you won’t be allowed in.
“There will be more police patrols and our public protection team has been working with businesses to help them comply with the guidance so that safe systems are put in place. We’ve dealt directly with a number of premises in the last couple of days and had conversations with some bigger chains to satisfy ourselves about how they are planning to manage their openings.
“We all want people to be able to enjoy the easing of the lockdown, and to do so in a safe and responsible way. It is really important that the instructions from businesses are followed, and people must co-operate and give their details if businesses ask them to, so that they can be contacted by the test and trace service if necessary.
“We have a number of measures in place in the city centre and other locations such as hand sanitisers, queuing barriers and markers – arrangements that are in place to help keep people safe. But ultimately, to ensure an enjoyable and safe return to venues, people need to take responsibility themselves.”
Meanwhile, the council is continuing to make car parking free at a number of designated car parks across the city as part of the new Stoke-cation campaign which has been launched today. Last month, the council made all of its 42 car parks in towns, communities and the city centre free to support businesses, shoppers and visitors in the recovery from the coronavirus. Now the council will make car parks in the following locations free for two weeks from Saturday 4 July to Saturday 18 July:
- Burslem – Queen Street, Market Place and St John Square
- Hanley – Lower Huntbach Street
- Stoke – South Wolfe Street.
The council is also still continuing to operate its 30-minute free parking, originally introduced in February, at the following car park locations:
- Burslem – Chapel Lane and Navigation Road
- Fenton – City Road
- Longton – Longton Exchange
- Meir – Weston Road
- Stoke – South Wolfe Street
- Tunstall – Butterfield Place.
Councillor Brown said: “We want to give every support to our towns and centres as more shops and locations continue to open, to encourage visitors back in a safe environment. We’re pleased to announce that a number of car parks will remain free and our initiative to make short-stay parking free at a number of locations will also continue. We hope that visitors will take advantage of these opportunities and return to our high streets, following safety advice.”
Council-run public toilets will reopen from Monday (6 July) at locations across the city. Conveniences at busy locations will have attendants in place, and other toilets will operate with a much increased cleaning regime. Disabled facilities operated with a radar key will be open. The toilets will be open at the following locations:
- Hanley, Stoke and Longton indoor markets.
- Burslem Park, Central Forest Park, Hanley Park, Longton Park and Tunstall Park.
- Toilet blocks in Fenton, Longton and Tunstall.
Visitors are reminded that there may be socially distanced queues to use the conveniences, and to follow onsite advice and guidance from attendants where applicable.
Residents are reminded that the Shopmobility service will resume from Monday (6 July), with some changes in place to keep customers and staff safe. The service will open on Monday, Wednesday and Friday between 10am and 4pm, by appointment only by calling 233333 after 9.30am on the day of the visit. Social distancing measures will be in place, and card payment-only will be accepted. Equipment has been deep cleaned ready for use, and will be cleaned again using anti-bacterial wipes before being handed over.
Registration services are continuing to be expanded in response to the easing of the lockdown. On Saturday (4 July), the first wedding since the coronavirus restrictions will take place at Tunstall Floral Hall, with the correct social distancing and infection control measures in place, and further ceremonies will begin again from 11 July.
Ceremonies are now permitted to take place again following updated guidance from government late last month to allow weddings and civil partnerships with a maximum of 30 people including the couple, staff such as a photographer and witnesses.
Register office staff have been working to ensure that the necessary steps to enable ceremonies to take place are implemented, with a number of guidelines to be followed:
- Ceremonies should be kept as short as reasonably possible, limited to just the parts that are legally binding
- No more than 30 people should attend
- All attendees should follow the two-metre rule if possible, or one metre with extra safety measures
- No food and drink should be consumed as part of the event
- Hands should be washed before and after the exchanging of rings, and the rings should be handled by as few people as possible
- Singing, shouting or playing music at a volume that means people have to raise their voice should be avoided. Instead of singing, recordings are suggested
- Speaking during the ceremony – for example saying the responses to the vows – should not be in a raised voice
- Playing instruments that are blown into should be avoided
- When singing or chanting is required, only one person is allowed to and the couple or venue should consider installing a clear screen
- Venues frequently used for weddings should mark the floor with tape or paint to help people maintain social distancing.
From Monday (6 July) the number of mourners who can attend funerals will be increased to 30, with all other existing social distancing measures and guidance remaining in place. Carmountside Cemetery and Crematorium will revert to its usual summertime opening hours, 8am to 8pm, as the service begins to return to normal. From Monday the £35 fee for live video streaming will also be reintroduced for funerals arranged after this date.
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.