Durham County Council has offered guidance to businesses and residents as lockdown restrictions begin to ease this week.
From Saturday, the government has announced that businesses and venues in the hospitality sector, such as restaurants, pubs, hair salons, and cinemas, will be allowed to reopen to the public if they have appropriate social distancing measures in place.
While the next phase of reopening will be a welcome boost to the county’s economy, Durham Council is reminding businesses and residents about the importance of following safe practices as visitors continue to return to town centres.
The council has developed a toolkit for businesses to help them reopen safely which is available online.
This toolkit includes guidance on which businesses are allowed to reopen under the new announcement, advice on what safety measures should be put in place to protect staff and customers, as well as template risk assessments for businesses planning to reopen.
Visitors to the county’s town centres are also being reminded to continue to follow the government’s guidance on staying safe outside of the home.
From July 4, people will be able to meet in groups of up to two households, either indoors or outdoors, but should still be socially distanced. Groups must be of no more than six people.
People also should not interact socially with anyone outside of a group they are attending a place with, for example if in a restaurant, hair salon or pub, even if the other person is someone they know.
Visitors to town centres are being asked to continue acting responsibly, be considerate to others, and to follow the guidance on what they should and should not do during the pandemic.
The council is working closely with its partners, such as the police and NHS, to ensure that those visiting town centres can do so confidently and safely.
Neighbourhood wardens will be deployed in town centres in the county and will be carrying out patrols to reassure the public and responding to any low level anti-social disturbances to support the police.
Additional staff from the council’s clean and green team will be supporting existing street cleaning staff over the weekend to assist with potential clean up.
As more businesses reopen in town centres, the council is also considering how outside areas are used and how it can assist the public and businesses to maintain social distancing while ensuring access is still available.
Following the announcement, the government issued guidance and a new process for local authorities to consider pavement licences for outdoor seating, with the consultation period reduced from 28 days to 5 working days, although a separate licence will be required for the sale of alcohol.
Cllr Carl Marshall, Durham County Council’s cabinet member for economic regeneration, said: “This next stage of reopening town centres is an important step to the recovery of our town centre economy which has been significantly impacted by the outbreak of the virus. With more businesses looking to reopen from this weekend, more people will be encouraged to visit our town centres and shop locally, bringing money back into the county’s economy.
“However, as more people return to our town centres it is equally important that we all continue to be responsible and considerate to others, and follow the guidance set out by government at all times. This is to ensure we can all shop and visit our town centres safely, confidently, and without risk of further spread of the virus.”
Steve White, Acting Durham Police Crime and Victims’ Commissioner, said: “Whilst things will look and be a little bit different it is really good to see businesses reopening as we move to the next stage. We appreciate that people want to have a good time, but as they do so we encourage them to act responsibly and with consideration to others. We are asking people to follow the key advice of know your limits, plan your day and consider how you will get home safely.”
For more information about visiting the county’s town centres, advice for businesses, and the business reopening toolkit, go to www.durham.gov.uk/reopeningtowncentres