Durham County Council is offering advice on accessing its services in light of the changes to Covid restrictions on Monday.
The local authority says keeping communities safe and maintaining key services has been its priority throughout the pandemic and this will remain as we move into Tier 4 of the government’s roadmap.
DCC is encouraging and recommending members of the public to continue to wear face coverings, unless exempt, in all of its buildings and venues, to protect each other and staff.
Helping to reduce the spread of coronavirus, this will enable the council to maintain the provision of services for those who need them most.
And while the number of people allowed in buildings will increase, the council is urging the public to continue to be considerate of one another by giving people space. This is in addition to continuing with regular handwashing, the use of hand sanitiser, which will be in place in council buildings, and ensuring mouths and noses are covered when coughing or sneezing.
Taking regular lateral flow tests and getting both doses of the coronavirus vaccine are also strongly advised.
Cllr Amanda Hopgood, Leader of Durham County Council, said: “In line with the national guidance, we will be removing many restrictions in place in our buildings next week. While this signifies a welcome return to a more normal way of life, coronavirus has not gone away and we are urging people to remain vigilant to protect each other and our staff, and to allow us to continue to deliver these services for the benefit of our communities.
“The people of County Durham have been fantastic at doing what was needed at the right time throughout the pandemic and, as we move forward, we are asking everyone to take some simple steps to protect themselves, their families and their communities.
“This includes continuing to wash our hands, using hand sanitiser, giving people space and socialising outdoors or in well-ventilated areas. We are also encouraging people to wear face coverings in indoor public spaces and buildings.
“It is also incredibly important we all get both doses of the vaccine, as this will greatly reduce the chance of serious illness.
“We would like to thank you for all of your efforts, which are playing a crucial role in keeping County Durham open.”
Key updates for council services and buildings from Monday include:
• Bereavement services. The limit on the number of people attending funerals at Durham and Mountsett Crematoria due to coronavirus will be removed. However, mourners are asked not to congregate in communal areas. The live webcast service will continue. Visit www.durham.gov.uk/crematoria
• Weddings and civil partnerships. Capacity will increase but will vary between venues, so couples are encouraged to check in advance. Contact [email protected] or 03000 266000 and select option three.
• Household Waste and Recycling Centres. Current arrangements will continue. Visit www.durham.gov.uk/hwrc
• Park and ride. Arrangements and timetable will stay the same.
• Leisure centres. Current operating hours will remain in place but one-way systems and formal social distancing measures will be removed. Changing facilities and showers will be available before and after gym and fitness class sessions. Visit www.durham.gov.uk/leisurecentres
• Swimming pools. Lane swimming will remain a bookable activity, but general swimming sessions will be reintroduced with a traffic light system in place. Changing, showers and vanity areas will reopen to pre-Covid arrangements. Visit www.durham.gov.uk/swimming
• Swimming lessons. Parents and guardians will now sit in the spectator area rather than poolside and there is also no limit on the number of spectators per family. Visit www.durham.gov.uk/aqualearn
• Other leisure activities. Football, five-a-side and squash will restart gradually. Children’s soft play will reopen on Monday and children’s party bookings will also be taken from that date.
• Libraries. One-way system and formal social distancing arrangements will be removed. Limits and pre-booking of computer slots will no longer be in place. Visit www.durham.gov.uk/libraries
• Parks. Current opening hours will remain in place. Visit www.durham.gov.uk/parks
• Theatres and cinema. One-way systems and formal social distancing arrangements will be removed at Gala Durham and Empire Consett. Table service will also stop at the cafés. Tickets can now be bought at the Box Office and the Gala’s lower ground floor cinema will reopen on Friday 23 July. Visit www.galadurham.co.uk and www.empireconsett.co.uk
• Bishop Auckland Town Hall. One-way systems, formal social distancing arrangements and café table service will no longer be in place. The gallery will open. www.bishopaucklandtownhall.org.uk
• Durham Town Hall. One-way systems and formal social distancing arrangements will be removed. Guided tours will run as normal. Visit www.durham.gov.uk/durhamtownhall
• Binchester Roman Fort. One-way system will remain in place and there will be no events this year. Visit www.durham.gov.uk/binchester
• Killhope. One-way systems, formal social distancing arrangements and the no-touch rule in the gift shop will be removed. The loaning out of wellington boots will resume. Visit www.killhope.org.uk
Durham County Council will do its best to keep services open but with case numbers remaining high across the county and wider region, there may be occasions when some provision has to be adjusted. The local authority is asking people to understand the challenges North East councils are facing and would like to thank them in advance for their patience.
For the latest information about council services from Monday, visit durham.gov.uk/coronavirus.