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Gyms and museums close in line with lockdown restrictions, as extra support put in place for vulnerable

Published: Wednesday, 4th November 2020

Leisure centres and museums will close as part of national month-long lockdown restrictions that come into force tomorrow (Thursday), with more resources put in place to support vulnerable residents.

Stoke-on-Trent City Council has announced a number of services will close, and some other services will reduce between 5 November and 2 December, as part of a controlled response to the coronavirus restrictions.

In an approach similar to the national lockdown earlier in the year, staff working in those services will be redeployed to ensure other services important to residents continue to run. This includes the option of putting extra resources into the #StokeonTrentTogether campaign, should demand increase during the next four weeks. Earlier this year, the campaign, which is run with voluntary sector partner VAST to support vulnerable people, made over 100,000 proactive welfare calls to city residents, provided 4,745 requests for food parcels, received 1,886 requests for prescription collections and made 112 referrals for support services for people experiencing loneliness. Residents can access the #StokeonTrentTogether helpline – 0800 561 5610 or visit www.corona19.vast.org.uk. Residents are also encouraged to contact the service if they would like to volunteer their time to give support.

Services that will reduce or close between 5 November and 2 December include:

  • The Potteries Museum and Art Gallery and Gladstone Pottery Museum will both close. Both museums will continue to have a host of activities available online via: https://www.stokemuseums.org.uk.
  • The council’s four leisure centres: Dimensions Leisure Centre, Fenton Manor Sports Complex, New Horizons Leisure Centre and Wallace Sports and Education Centre will close, with direct debits suspended with immediate effect for members. Stoke-on-Trent Gymnastics Centre and Northwood Stadium will also close. All upcoming games and events at all these sites have been postponed or cancelled. Anyone who has paid for an upcoming event or other activity is encouraged to email: leisure.services@stoke.gov.uk. Residents are also encouraged to visit the social media for channels for the venues, where alternative ways to provide health, fitness and wellbeing advice and information will be posted.
  • Libraries across the city will revert back to Homelink and Call, click and collect services that proved really popular during the lockdown earlier in the year. For more details visit the libraries’ online services.
  • Indoor markets will remain open for essential goods only, in the same way they were open during the lockdown earlier in the year. Hanley Indoor Market will be open Monday to Saturday; and Longton, Stoke and Tunstall indoor markets will open Wednesday, Friday and Saturday.
  • Tip sites in Federation Road, Burslem and in Hanford will remain open and will operate their usual opening times. Blue and grey bin collections will continue as usual.
  • Registration and bereavement care services will continue to be available for civic registrations, burials and cremations. Wedding ceremonies will not take place during the lockdown, and burial and cremation services will have a maximum of 30 attendees, subject to national guidance. Exceptions are where one of those getting married is seriously ill and not expected to recover (‘deathbed wedding’). These weddings are limited to six people. The council has again made online streaming of these services available for free to support families at this time. Linked ceremonial events such as stone settings and ash scatterings can also continue with up to 15 people in attendance. Anyone working is not counted in the 15 or 30. Social distancing should be maintained between people who do not live together or share a support bubble.
  • Public toilets will remain open in the city’s bus station and in the indoor markets in Stoke, Hanley, Tunstall and Longton. All other public toilets will close. This will be reviewed regularly during the lockdown period.
     

Some other services may be affected by the lockdown, as the council continues to receive information and guidance from government.

Council leader Abi Brown said: “’We’ve considered our response to the national lockdown incredibly seriously. The decisions we have taken to close or reduce services and put extra resource into keeping critical services open has been done in a managed way to protect residents and staff and support people who need our help the most.

“We know that there are tough times ahead, but we have been able to keep more services open and have learned a lot from the previous lockdown so that we can provide alternative services and meet demand for support, should residents need it.

“For people who are struggling at this time, my message is clear: there is help available to support you. Do not struggle in silence. If you are vulnerable, if you are in genuine need of food, if you need support with your mental health, please get in touch. The #StokeonTrentTogether campaign is well-established and ready to help people in need, and we urge people to contact us should they need to. These are difficult times, but we will get through them together.

“The last lockdown taught us how creative we can be with digital and social media services, and this will continue. Our museums have a range of terrific home learning and gallery resources and fun activities for the whole family. Our leisure centres put on a range of online exercise classes which attracted thousands of viewers. We will continue to provide services in alternative ways as much as possible, with the safety and wellbeing of residents and our staff at the heart of what we do.

“Our social care, education welfare, homeless support, environmental services and a whole host of other services will continue to operate.

“Our tips will remain open and our waste collections will continue. One of the most disappointing aspects from the lockdown in March is that fly-tipping has increased by more than 1,000 reported cases on last year. Some people, instead of being responsible and either holding on to their waste or disposing of it properly chose to – and continue to choose to – blight our city by dumping their rubbish in alleyways, quiet lanes or even more brazenly on verges and highways. This is not acceptable and will never be acceptable whether we are in a lockdown or not. We are working exceptionally hard to keep bin collections and tips open in a safe way. If you witness fly-tipping taking place, please report it via the MyStoke App or by calling 01782 234234.”

Meanwhile, residents are urged to book a test if they have any suspicion of showing symptoms of the coronavirus. Latest figures for the seven days until 31 October show that there are 363.1 cases of the virus per 100,000 population - with the number of new cases in the city higher than West Midlands and England averages.

Dr Paul Edmondson-Jones, director of adult social care, health integration and wellbeing, said: “New cases of the virus are continuing to rise in the city. If you have any suspicion of having coronavirus, we urge you to get a test. There is plenty of capacity. Testing is available seven days a week, if you start showing symptoms at the weekend, you must not wait until Monday, you must get a test straight away.

“It is vitally important that you self-isolate while you are waiting for test results. This includes anyone you live with and anyone in your support bubble also. Please remember this means not visiting loved ones, however hard that may be; it is the right thing to do to protect them and you.”

Testing sites in Stoke-on-Trent are available at:

  • Stoke City FC South Car Park- drive through
  • Fenton Manor Car Park- walk through

Bookings can be made via www.nhs.uk/coronavirus or ringing 119, where help is available in other languages.

If not successful through the national booking, people can book for a community test 48 hours in advance on a rolling basis if they are showing coronavirus symptoms via www.stoke.gov.uk.

During this week, community testing is available at The Regent Centre, Regent Road Hanley ST1 3EG:

  • Wednesday 4 November: 2pm-4pm
  • Thursday 5 November: 10am-12:30pm
  • Friday 6 November: 11am-1:30pm
  • Saturday 7 November: 12pm-2:30pm

Meanwhile, Staffordshire Fire and Rescue is appealing to everyone to take great care on bonfire night, with households encouraged not to have fireworks at home. If households do choose to have a display at home they are urged to follow the firework code. Anyone caught in breach of lockdown rules on household mixing, even in a garden, could face a fine starting at £200.

If you are found to be the organiser of a gathering of more than 30 people – such as a firework display for family and friends – you could face a fine of £10,000.

Finally, there will be no traditional service this Remembrance Sunday (8 November), and residents are asked to please remember at home. You can take part in remote and socially distanced remembrance activity, whether that be watching the service on television or pausing for the Two Minute Silence in your home or on your doorstep. In a first for the city, both Hanley Town Hall and Stoke Town Hall will be lit up red from Friday (6 November) to Sunday (8 November) as part of the commemorations.

You can find the latest information from the Royal British Legion.

For the latest information on council services and support during the coronavirus, and frequently asked questions, please visit www.stoke.gov.uk/coronavirus. For latest health advice on the coronavirus, please visit www.nhs.uk/coronavirus, and for further information on the virus visit www.gov.uk/coronavirus.

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.

For all media enquiries please contact the Communications Department at Stoke-on-Trent City Council on 01782 232671.