Public protection teams have found hospitality venues across the city to be Covid-compliant, after carrying out more than 100 spot checks as coronavirus lockdown measures continue to ease.
The Stoke-on-Trent City Council officers visited 110 businesses on the first day of the reopening of indoor hospitality venues on Monday (17 May), focusing on pubs and also cafes and cinemas.
It’s the latest in a series of full days of action by the teams as they continue their work to support businesses in reopening safely from the pandemic and welcoming customers back.
Council leader Abi Brown said: “It’s great to see so many venues reopening with every Covid-secure measure in place to support and protect their customers and staff. Businesses right across the city have been working so hard to plan for the reopening in line with public health guidance, and welcome people back to their premises safely.
“Our teams observed really good practices in place for social distancing, and one-way systems and hand sanitisers available. They did give advice to a small number of premises on clearly displaying QR codes and posters for test and tracing arrangements. They’ll be checking back in with those businesses to make sure they are fully displayed properly.
“Our approach continues to be to work with businesses and give support as much as possible. Teams carried out visits to more than 90 premises on April 12, when the previous step on the roadmap out of lockdown took place, and at that time identified six premises, including barbers shops and a hairdressers, where they had concerns that the public health guidance wasn’t being followed. Happily, we have been able to work with those businesses, and our inspections on Monday found that all were following all the Covid-secure steps.
“It is a great reassurance to give to residents and shoppers in our city, that businesses are continuing to work as hard as possible to have every Covid-secure measure in place, and for people to know that our teams are on hand, checking on businesses and supporting them in this work.”
If residents have any concerns about premises, they can contact firstname.lastname@example.org or call 01782 234234.
Meanwhile, small and medium-sized businesses across Stoke-on-Trent can now apply for grant funding to help them get the most from digital technology.
The council has already paid out £11.5 million in Additional Restrictions Grant funding to businesses across the city to help them recover from the pandemic, and is now making up to an additional £700,000 available using the remaining allocation of national Additional Restriction Grant funding.
The aim of the grant is to help businesses use digital technology to grow as they emerge from the pandemic. Grants of up to £10,000 are available. Support could include digital marketing, website design, and the use of digital platforms and the purchase of digital equipment.
Councillor Brown said: “We are really pleased to be offering yet another grant scheme to our local businesses to help them recover from the coronavirus pandemic. This is a great opportunity, especially for businesses that have been badly affected by the Covid-19 pandemic to adopt digital technologies and improve their digital capacity. The pandemic has highlighted how businesses have had to adapt, and digital technology can facilitate this change, allowing businesses to trade despite a challenging economic environment.
“We are particularly interested in hearing from new businesses which have been trading for fewer than five years and may be struggling to establish themselves and grow – this is a great opportunity for them to adopt digital technologies and improve their digital capacity. The fund is being offered across all sectors. We are asking businesses to respond quickly as grants need to be claimed by 30 June 2021.
“Our teams will work quickly to get the money distributed, so that businesses will be able to benefit immediately from the funding. As we continue on the road to recovery from this dreadful virus, it is more important than ever that we support local business and boost our local economy.”
Successful applicants will have three weeks to purchase services in order to claim the grant. Businesses must provide receipts and proof of payments to access the funds.
To find out more, visit www.stoke.gov.uk/businessgrants, where the latest information on support grants and the eligibility criteria is available. Grants need to be claimed by 30 June 2021.
The authority is also making an urgent call to recruit new foster carers as the city recovers from the coronavirus. ‘Fostering fortnight’ is underway and the council is highlighting a huge need for more foster carers, as the number of cared-for children in the city has risen to 1,014 during the pandemic.
Councillor Brown said: “The need to find foster carers and loving homes for children is very high. More than ever we are urging those who might have been thinking about fostering for a while, or those who may not have previously considered it but feel they can offer a loving home, to begin the process now. We are committed to supporting vulnerable children and we want to ensure that we give all our cared-for children and young people the best possible start.
“There really is no typical foster carer. Anyone can come forward and make such a big difference in a child’s life regardless of age, gender, religious or cultural background, sexual orientation or if you are married, single or divorced. Our friendly team will be more than happy to talk you through the process step-by-step.”
Residents who are interested in knowing more about becoming a foster carer in Stoke-on-Trent can visit www.stoke.gov.uk/fostering or call 01782 234555.
The seven-day rate of coronavirus cases in the city is now 24.2 per 100,000 people, for the week 7 May – 13 May 2021. This is an increase of 1.6 per cent on the previous seven days. The percentage of people who have had a test and tested positive is 0.8 per cent.
Although cases are still widespread across the city, places where there are higher levels of community transmission include Etruria and Hanley, and Bentilee and Ubberley. Residents in these areas should consider booking a test.
Dr Paul Edmondson-Jones, director of adult social care, health integration and wellbeing, said: “As restrictions eased on Monday, now is not the time to become complacent. We need to test ourselves at least twice a week and be cautious. Although close contact with your loved ones is now allowed, please keep in mind that we still need to protect each other – the virus is still out there, it’s still making people poorly and not everybody has been vaccinated. One in three people with Covid-19 do not show symptoms and so the tests are really important in helping to quickly spot positive cases and squash any outbreaks.”
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