Public protection teams have carried out spot-checks on the Covid-secure measures in 86 non-essential retail premises across the city.
The Stoke-on-Trent City Council officers visited high footfall areas in high streets, town centres and the city centre in a full day of activities. They found good levels of compliance, with premises and customers following the public health guidance. But they reported issues in a small number of premises.
In total, 14 public protection officers visited 55 general retail stores, 24 businesses where there is close contact with customers such as barbers shops and salons, and seven hospitality venues such as pubs.
Officers gave advice to 20 premises on issues such as displaying posters with QR codes for test and trace purposes and posters to request customers wear a face covering, which is a legal requirement.
They found further concerns at six premises including a number of barbers and a hairdressers where the correct PPE wasn’t been worn by staff, and QR codes weren’t displayed, as well as instances of barbers reusing gowns for different customers. In these instances, disposable gowns should be used, or gowns washed and correctly sanitised between use. These premises were issued warning letters and will receive follow-up visits. Enforcement action is being considered against a further barbers shop in Meir where officers were concerned that advice that had previously been given on a range of Covid-secure measures was not being followed.
Councillor leader Abi Brown said: “We carried out spot-checks because we want to be satisfied that premises and customers are doing all they can to protect themselves and each other. It has been really heartening to see so many stores and premises not only following the advice, but going the extra mile to support customers. Teams reported that shoppers in the Potteries Shopping Centre, for example, were wearing their face coverings, and shops with queuing systems were operating their queues correctly.
“However, our teams have observed a small number of premises where simply giving advice and support has not been enough. We have issued warning letters to six premises and will be following this up very closely to ensure that they follow the Covid-secure guidance. We will not shy away from taking enforcement action where breaches occur, and are considering options on this at one premises in Meir where they have not responded to the advice and guidance that has been given to them.
“I want to thank businesses for all of their continued hard work, but urge workers and customers to not be complacent – we must all continue to follow the coronavirus guidance to stop the spread of the disease.”
Meanwhile, two popular Stoke-on-Trent museums are getting ready to reopen later this month when national covid restrictions are eased.
The Potteries Museum & Art Gallery will welcome back visitors from Monday, May 17. Then, from 10am on Tuesday, May 18, Gladstone Pottery Museum will reopen its doors to the public. Both sites have been awarded Visit England ‘Good To Go’ status – a UK-wide, industry standard consumer mark which confirms that an attraction is adhering to the latest government and public health guidance.
A range of strict Covid-secure measures have been put in place to help to keep people safe. One of these measures includes visits being pre-booked to help to control the number of people inside the sites and to comply with social distancing. Anybody wanting to visit the museums must pre-book a slot. Visits to the Potteries Museum & Art Gallery can be booked from 10am on Thursday, May 6, and the booking line for Gladstone will open from 10am on Tuesday, May 11.
Councillor Brown said: “It’s brilliant that more of our attractions are due to reopen in line with Government guidance. Our museums teams have worked really hard to ensure they can welcome back visitors safely. As well as having a strict pre-booking only policy, our museums have implemented a number of Covid-secure measures to help ensure visitors have an enjoyable and safe experience. Some of these measures include hand sanitising stations around the site; all visitors are required to wear a face covering unless exempt; and must only visit as up to two households or in groups of up to six people; signage to help people maintain social distancing; visitors will be asked to complete and NHS Track and Trace scheme; and interactive displays will not be available.
“As we continue on our road to recovery, I’d encourage all of our residents to enjoy the local attractions our fantastic city has to offer, while ensuring we remain safe to help protect ourselves and each other.”
Meanwhile, the council’s director of adult social care, health integration and wellbeing Dr Paul Edmondson-Jones, is urging people to keep getting tested for coronavirus at least twice a week, and to remember to continue to follow public health advice, as coronavirus case rates continue to fall in Stoke-on-Trent.
The seven-day rate of coronavirus cases in the city is now 34.7 per 100,000 people, for the week 23 April to 29 April 2021. This is a decrease of 16.8 per cent on the previous seven days. The percentage of people who have had a test and tested positive is 1.2 per cent.
Although cases are still widespread across the city, places where there are higher levels of community transmission include: Bentilee and Ubberley, and Meir Hay, and residents in these areas are urged to get tested.
Dr Paul Edmondson-Jones said: “Following the first of the two May Bank Holidays, I’d like to thank residents who have been sensible and safe over the weekend – our rates are steadily decreasing, which is good news, but we need to make sure we continue this. Please do enjoy our city’s parks and attractions, but remember that we are still very much living with Covid-19 – it still exists, it’s still spreading and it is still making people poorly.
“To protect yourselves and to protect your loved ones, friends and families please continue to follow the hands, face, space and fresh air guidance. In particular, only meet people outside of your household/support bubble outdoors in groups of up to six people or as two households. Do not mix inside each other’s houses. Fresh air is known to reduce the risk of spreading Covid-19.
“Please take tests twice a week. Lateral flow tests offer peace of mind and help to squash any potential outbreaks – one in three people with Covid-19 symptoms don’t show symptoms, so they’re vital in detecting cases that might otherwise go unknown. You get the results in 30 minutes and the test takes less than five minutes to do, and you can collect them for free from one of our Community Collect venues, one of the registered pharmacies or you can get them delivered to your home. You can still also book a test at one of our venues. Please visit https://www.stoke.gov.uk/communitycollect or https://www.stoke.gov.uk/bookacovid19test to access your tests.
“Remembering and practicing these simple actions will make a huge difference, and will help us continue on the road to recovery and prevent the spread of this terrible virus.”
For all media enquiries please contact Andrew Brunt in the Communications Department at Stoke-on-Trent City Council on 01782 232671.
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