Public protection teams are preparing visits to pubs, shops and gyms to support the reopening of non-essential retail stores across the city next week.
A total of 12 Stoke-on-Trent City Council officers will visit the city centre, towns and communities on Monday (April 12), to coincide with the first day of the further easing of coronavirus restrictions.
They will carry out around 60 detailed visits of premises, and scores of further check-ins with businesses to support them in opening safely and in line with the public health guidance.
Council leader, Conservative, Abi Brown said: “It is great news that the national lockdown restrictions will continue to ease from next week, with non-essential shops, gyms and hairdressers reopening; and pubs and restaurants able to serve customers outside. It’s a great boost to our high streets as they can start to recover from an incredibly tough few months.
“We’ve been working with businesses throughout the lockdown so that when they do open again, they can do so safely and in line with all of the public health guidance.
“In support of this, we’ll have a very visible presence across the city next Monday, with public protection teams visiting premises to help ensure all the guidance is being followed. They are very much supportive visits, we’re continuing to work with businesses and we want to give as much help as possible.
“Businesses have been working through restrictions of one form or another for a long time now, and the vast majority have tried and tested systems in place that comply with the rules. We have found that in shops, the biggest challenge has not been with the businesses themselves, but with customers not wearing face coverings or socially distancing. We know it is exciting that we can begin to go shopping again, and to do things like go to the hairdressers, but I urge everyone to please follow the guidance and the measures that stores have in place to protect you, and other shoppers.
“We’ll also have our Covid stewards out across the city as usual, and they will be advising on queuing and keeping two metres apart.”
The Covid stewards have also been playing an important role in the council’s contact tracing work to keep residents and communities safe. They have been carrying out welfare checks on residents who are isolating, and helping people to understand why it is important to isolate where necessary.
Councillor Brown said: “The stewards have been doing a brilliant job of supporting communities. They have been visiting households where a resident has tested positive for Covid, and from the doorstep and at a safe distance, have provided people with advice and support, as well as information on services such as #StokeonTrentTogether, should they need additional help. During one visit, stewards found a resident needing urgent medical attention, so they ensured an ambulance was called and that the resident was safe and well.”
The seven-day rate of coronavirus cases in the city is now 59.3 per 100,000 people, for the week March 31 to 6 April 2021. This is a decrease of 30 per cent on the previous seven days. The percentage of people who have had a test and tested positive is 2.2 per cent.
Following an announcement by the Prime Minister earlier this week, everyone in England will be able to access lateral flow test kits to use at home each week from Friday (9 April). The kits are free and are quick and easy to use from home, giving results in 30 minutes. They will be available from 10 council community testing sites across the city, and more information about the scheme is available via: https://www.gov.uk/government/news/twice-weekly-rapid-testing-to-be-available-to-everyone-in-england.
Dr Paul Edmondson-Jones, director of adult social care, health integration and wellbeing, said: “It is encouraging to see our case rate continue to fall, but we are still at a higher level than the West Midlands and England averages. It is really significant that we all continue to follow the guidance and continue to get tested, even if we have had the first dose of the vaccine, especially as the lockdown restrictions continue to ease from next Monday.
“We are making home lateral flow test kits available from our community testing centres, and trained staff will be available to answer any questions and guide you how to use the tests. Residents can also still take tests at our community testing venues at the same time as collecting boxes of kits for home testing. There will also be options to access tests via workplace testing, NHS Test and Trace sites, collection from participating pharmacies listed online on NHS England’s site finder, secondary schools and college settings for students, and a home delivery service for those who cannot access the tests via the other routes.
“One in three people with coronavirus don’t show symptoms, so the tests are really important in helping to quickly spot positive cases and squash any outbreaks.”
Residents can find out more about the community collect venues which offer home lateral flow testing kits via https://www.stoke.gov.uk/communitycollect.
If testing at home, residents will need to register their results online or by calling 119. Residents should self-isolate if the test is positive to prevent the spread of the coronavirus, and they will be advised to order a confirmatory PCR test within 48 hours of the positive result. PCR tests can be accessed via the following website: https://www.gov.uk/get-coronavirus-test or by calling 119.