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Clampdown on barbers not following coronavirus rules, and £820,000 to support homeless

Published: Wednesday, 23rd September 2020

Three barber shops have been issued warnings for not following coronavirus health guidelines, as council teams are responding to a series of complaints.

Stoke-on-Trent City Council public protection officers have issued the community protection warnings to a premises in Burslem and to two premises in Tunstall after all three were found to be flouting the rules. Staff in both premises were not wearing personal protective equipment including face coverings and visors. The premises will be closely monitored by public protection teams, and if they continue to break the rules will be issued a community protection notice, which could result in court action and closure orders. Council teams are also investigating two other barber shops in the Longton area after concerns from residents that staff in the premises were not wearing the correct personal protective equipment.

Council leader Abi Brown said: “We have had repeated conversations with the premises in Burslem and Tunstall and it is incredibly disappointing that we have now had to issue formal warnings because they have continued to not comply with the guidelines. The coronavirus rules are in place to protect workers and residents – they are for everyone’s health and wellbeing.

“Our teams continue to go out across the city, advising businesses of their responsibilities. They will continue to do this now that the new national measures have been announced by government. We are also acting on information from residents and using our own intelligence to ensure that premises are compliant.

“If premises do not follow covid-secure measures, it will not be tolerated and action will be taken. This is serious; we all need to take responsibility to stop the risk of the spread of the virus.

“Our plea to residents is if premises aren’t covid-compliant and don’t put your safety first then don’t go in there. The same applies if premises are too busy when you go into them. Take responsibility for yourself and your own actions.”

Residents can report concerns they have about premises to public.protection@stoke.gov.uk.

Meanwhile, the council has secured £820,000 from the government’s Next Steps Accommodation Programme to support homeless people as the city continues to respond to the coronavirus.

During the lockdown period earlier this year, the authority moved quickly to provide support to 290 people, with 123 vulnerable homeless people now having moved on off the streets, into more secure, longer-term accommodation. A total of 31 people are currently being supported in hotel accommodation.

The new funding will help the council support more people to leave emergency accommodation and into more long-term housing, preventing them from returning to the streets again.

Councillor Brown said: “We’re pleased to have received one of the largest awards in the region from the national funding programme, and this reflects the quality of the work we are delivering in the city to date and the strength of the partnerships we have with a range of organisations who are providing tailored support to meet people’s needs.

“The money will enable us to extend our emergency accommodation and support provision, support hotels and other accommodation with measures to minimise potential anti-social behaviour, and support private rented landlords in providing their accommodation to help homeless people. Really importantly, it means we can put the right steps in place to help vulnerable people over the winter months and the cold weather to come.”

Meanwhile latest figures show that 176 people were tested for the coronavirus at the council’s local testing centre at Fenton Manor Sports Complex on Monday and Tuesday.

The council made provisions for a total of 200 swab tests over the two days. A total of 47 people failed to show up for their tests, but the council was able to quickly respond to fill 23 of those slots by prioritising health workers and school staff and children.

Councillor Brown said: “We moved really quickly to set up our own testing facilities, supported by the NHS and partners, because the national testing arrangements haven’t been good enough to meet the demand and support our residents. In the two days we undertook testing last week, seven people tested positive for the coronavirus and have self-isolated and been supported to recover. It also meant that a further 194 people tested negative and were able to return to work and school in the knowledge that they didn’t have the virus.

“It is really important that people who have an appointment show up for it, and it is incredibly frustrating when they don’t. We’re reviewing our arrangements. If we are able to secure more tests next week – and we hope that we can continue to operate this facility until the capacity on the national system improves – we want people to tell us if they can’t make their appointment. Details on how to cancel are issued on their test email confirmation, and we will continue to improve arrangements to cancel the appointment. We are also speaking to all those who didn’t show up to understand the reasons why.”

The Potteries Museum and Art Gallery will welcome back visitors next week following its temporary closure due to national coronavirus restrictions. The museum is preparing to open from 10am on Monday, September 28.

Following national guidance and the latest coronavirus updates from the government, there will be a number of measures in place to ensure the site is Covid-secure.

To help to limit the number of people inside the museum and comply with social distancing, visitors must book a time slot by calling 01782 232323. New time slots will be released every Monday.  

Other safety measures include:

  • A maximum of six people only per booking;
  • Visitors must arrive 10 minutes before their admission time;
  • Hand-sanitising stations will be located throughout the building;
  • All visitors must wear a face covering unless exempt, except when seated in the café;
  • A one-way system will be in place on walkways, stairways, and in the galleries.

The museum has been awarded Visit England ‘Good To Go’ status – a UK-wide, industry standard consumer mark which confirms that an attraction is adhering to government and public health guidance.

Previous opening times at the museum will still apply: Monday to Saturday from 10am to 5pm and on Sunday from 11am to 4pm. Visits will be a recommended two hours. Staff will be on hand to help with any questions visitors may have.

Due to current national guidelines, all interactive elements of displays have been temporarily removed. Instead, families will be able to buy interactive Ozzy The Owl activity bags, which cost £5 and include exciting trails, puzzles, quizzes, a craft activity to take home, coloured pencils and a badge. The site’s popular Ozzy Owl Trail sheets will still be available for £1.

The museum will also feature a new exhibition, called While We Were Away, which chronicles some of the things residents did during the national coronavirus lockdown.

The display, on the lower ground floor, highlights the online activities run by the museum during the temporary closure, which included support for home schooling, national anniversaries and fun activities for families. It features photos from workshops, rainbow trails, VE Day celebrations and children’s own ‘mini museums’ at home.

Another addition to the museum will be a display featuring some of the equipment and stories that are due to be used in the new Spitfire Gallery, which is scheduled to open in 2021.

Visitors can discover objects linked to the Spitfire story and find out about the effects of the Second World War on Stoke-on-Trent. The museum will use this temporary display to gather feedback about the stories, objects and equipment that it plans to use next year.

As well as the stunning Staffordshire Hoard gallery, which features part of the largest collection of Anglo-Saxon gold and silver metalwork ever found, the museum also has displays of fine and decorative arts, costume, local history, archaeology and natural history. There is also the world's greatest collection of Staffordshire ceramics.

There will be other new displays at the site over the coming months.

Due to the ongoing construction works for the new Spitfire Gallery, the museum cafe will be temporarily relocated to the old Spitfire Gallery on the ground floor with a revised menu of light refreshments. There will also be a call and collect service for takeaways on 01782 232572.

For more information, please visit www.stokemuseums.org.uk.

Councillor Brown: “We’re absolutely delighted to announce that visitors will soon be welcomed back to the Potteries Museum and Art Gallery. It’s one of the city’s most popular attractions and offers world-beating, stunning displays that you can’t see anywhere else.

“The museum’s new trails and family activity bags will help to bring the collections to life and create a fun adventure around the galleries. We’ve also got lots of plans for fantastic new exhibitions over the coming months.

“Our dedicated museum team have been working really hard during the temporary closure to make sure the site is Covid-secure and we can bring people back safely. Please remember that visitors must book a time slot and we need everyone to follow the safety measures put in place. By sticking to these rules, we can ensure residents and visitors continue to enjoy all of the amazing items and collections available at the museum.”

For more information and advice on the 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. If residents have symptoms, please get tested. All residents must continue to follow the guidance of wash hands, cover face and make space.

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