Pub-goers are being urged: be sensible, plan ahead and follow health measures. Plus, the authority is allocating a further £1.1m in discretionary grants. And council extends opening of leisure centres
Pub-goers are being urged: be sensible, plan ahead and follow health measures in venues, as temperatures rise this weekend.
Stoke-on-Trent City Council is calling on residents to continue to follow public health guidance to protect themselves and others from the spread of the coronavirus.
Council leader Abi Brown said: “Temperatures are rising again this weekend, but the last thing any of us want is a risk in a rise of coronavirus cases. The hot weather last weekend led to reports that social distancing wasn’t being observed in a small number of bars and venues. This is not acceptable.
“We all need to take responsibility. So if you are sitting in a beer garden this evening or over the weekend or going out to one of the many fantastic venues across the city, my message to you is this: follow all of the steps necessary to protect yourself and others.
“Prepare for and plan your outing in advance. Use hand sanitiser, and make use of it in the venues you go to. Wear your face mask if you book a taxi, and sit two metres from your taxi driver where you are able to. Follow the social distancing markers and guidelines in the venues that you go to. And give your details when you are asked to for the NHS Test and Trace service. This is really important to protect you.
“If we all follow these measures, and are sensible about it, we will stop the spread of the virus, while still having a good time and enjoying the city’s many attractions.
“The vast majority of venues are following the public health guidance and are doing everything they can to protect you when you visit so that you can enjoy yourself safely.
“We continue to work with and advise venues, through our trading standards teams, to help ensure they are complying with the guidance. But venues can only do so much. It is for us all to take responsibility and to socialise in the right way.”
From today (Friday) the council is allocating a further £1.1m to 342 small businesses in discretionary grants. The money will be distributed evenly across the businesses, meaning that they will each receive £3,300.
The announcement comes after the authority has already issued £1.7m from its £2.8m discretionary grants scheme allocation from government over two waves at the end of May and during June and July.
The remaining money will be distributed to the businesses that benefited from the first two waves. It means the businesses were given £5,000 initially and will now have received a total of £8,300 each.
Councillor Brown said: “This is another huge boost to the city to help our businesses recover from the coronavirus.
“We are doing as much as possible to support businesses, to get them through the most difficult of times, and now to help them on their continued journey to recovery. Small businesses are the lifeblood of the city and we’re moving quickly to help them.
“The money will further support market traders. I have listened to traders and the challenges they have faced in response to the coronavirus. We want to welcome people back into our market halls, with every public health measure in place to ensure shoppers can return as safely as possible. We’re investing heavily in rejuvenating Tunstall Town Hall, and the fantastic restoration of Longton Town Hall shows how this investment is reaping rewards.
“Under government guidance, if we don’t allocate this funding by 28 August, we lose it. We are taking the bold step to allocate this money now, to help those businesses with additional support as soon as possible.”
Meanwhile, gyms, exercise classes and swimming sessions at council centres are to open up to all residents from Monday (10 August).
The measures follow a successful initial reopening two weeks ago of restricted pre-booked gym and group exercise classes at Fenton Manor Sports Complex, Dimensions Leisure Centre and the Wallace Sports Centre, as well as lane swimming at Fenton Manor.
From Monday, pre-booked gym sessions, group exercise classes and lane swimming will now be available to customers who want to pay as they go. People will also be able to sign up for a new gym membership to attend Fenton Manor, Dimensions or the Wallace.
For all members, existing and new, facilities and activities will be free to use throughout August. Following this, membership fees will be capped at £10 for September, with a view to membership packages returning to normal after the full range of facilities and services resume.
During August, all members are being given ‘global’ access, so they will be able to use any of the facilities available at Fenton Manor, Dimensions and The Wallace.
From Monday (10 August), aqua aerobics will be reintroduced and, as demand requires, extra group exercise sessions will be offered. Fenton Manor, Dimensions, The Wallace, Northwood Stadium and New Horizons will be confirming bookings from this date. From 17 August, the sports hall at Fenton Manor will be reopened.
Councillor Brown said: “We’re really pleased to be extending the opening of our leisure centres. It is being done in a controlled and measured way, with visitor safety, and that of our staff, at the heart of our plans.
“The first phase of reopening went really well, with visitors booking more than 3,000 slots at our centres in just two weeks.”
Some activities and facilities remain closed and will be reopened in the coming weeks at New Horizons, and including the pool at Dimensions, the health spa at Fenton Manor, cafes, and events or parties.
In other news, council licensing teams have moved quickly to grant 17 temporary street licences to cafes, bars and restaurants across the city, as part of measures to support businesses in recovering from the coronavirus.
A total of eight bars, sandwich clubs, restaurants and pizzerias in Hanley have successfully applied for the licences, along with three bars and a café in Burslem, a pub in Fenton and an eatery in Longton. A further three premises in the city are in the process of applying.
Last month new legislation was introduced under the Business and Planning Act 2020 for premises to apply to councils for temporary street furniture such as tables and chairs, and the licence would cost no more than £100. The council has waived the fee for these licences.
Councillor Brown said: “The aim of the changes is to support premises as they reopen from the lockdown, so that they can continue to operate safely while social distancing measures remain in place.”
Businesses that may be looking to make an application can call 01782 234234 and ask to speak to the licensing service, or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
From tomorrow (8 August), it will be mandatory to wear a face covering in places where people mix with others such as libraries, museums, galleries, places of worship and cinemas. This includes Stoke-on-Trent libraries when picking up orders.
The measures are in addition to the requirement already in place to wear face coverings when visiting shops and using public transport. Government guidance has now been updated with a full list of settings where you will need to wear a face covering: https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/face-coverings-when-to-wear-one-and-how-to-make-your-own/face-coverings-when-to-wear-one-and-how-to-make-your-own.
People who do not wear a face covering will face a fine of up to £100 and can be refused entry to or asked to leave the premises.
Babies should never have their faces covered or be put in a mask because of the danger of suffocation, and children under the age of 11 are exempt in shops.
The council is also reassuring residents over national news reports on the recall of 50 million FFP2 masks. The city council has not purchased or allocated any of these types of face masks.
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.