Following the easing of Covid restrictions on 19 July, South Gloucestershire Council is encouraging people visiting our libraries, One Stop Shops and other buildings to continue to wear face coverings and give others space.
While the legal restrictions limiting the size of social gatherings, requiring those without an exemption to wear masks and to maintain social distancing have now been lifted, we also know that Covid cases are rising nationally and locally.
The public health guidance has not changed and the simple measures we are all now well used to are still an easy way to choose to help protect ourselves and show consideration and care for those around us.
By choosing to carry on wearing a face covering in busier areas, giving people space and making use of cleaning stations where they are provided, you will be reducing the risk for friends and family, as well as for staff in the places you visit, and for those who may be particularly vulnerable to becoming seriously ill if they were to catch the coronavirus in the wider community.
In order to help reinforce this message, council staff working in public-facing buildings will be expected to continue to follow best practice measures, and signage in our buildings will remind users of the ways they can continue to reduce everyone’s risks.
We will also retain the best practice health and safety measures, which have been in place since services re-opened, including enhanced daily cleaning, hand sanitiser stations at entry to buildings and steps to improve ventilation. Library customers are also able to book appointments and a Click and Collect service continues for those who prefer staff to choose for them.
Public transport operators are also encouraging passengers to continue to act in a way that helps to protect others and to help fellow passengers to feel safe and comfortable, because we know that many people are feeling anxious about the increased risk of infection due to the ending of legal restrictions.
South Gloucestershire Council Cabinet Member for Adults and Housing, Councillor Ben Stokes, said: “Residents can now make their own choices, but we are following Government guidance and recommending that everyone who can, continues to wear a face covering when visiting one of our One Stop Shops or libraries, especially when services are busy.
“It is your choice, but if you can, we want to encourage people to think of others and to continue to follow Covid safety measures, because we know that many people who have been extremely anxious about the risk of Covid for the past year, are now worried about the additional risks in going out to do their shopping or going to the library, for example.
“Face coverings provide additional protection for you, but even more so, for others. That is why we are encouraging people to look out for one another and respect our staff and others by continuing to wear one if you can.
“The way so many people have been so thoughtful and compassionate for each other throughout the pandemic has been fantastic, and I want to thank people once again for the community spirit they have already shown, and to everyone who will continue to demonstrate their ongoing thoughtfulness by staying Covid-safe.”
South Gloucestershire Director of Public Health, Sara Blackmore, said: “Covid has not gone away. We are all keen to get back to living without restrictions, but the measures we are asking people to now choose to follow are simple. We are all used to doing these things and they are an easy way of helping to look after those around us.
“We are also still encouraging everyone who can to take up the vaccine when they are invited to do so, and accessing an appointment for the jab is easier than ever, with more and more drop-in sessions being held. Go online to www.grabajab.net to find out about a session near you.
“Regular testing is also still really important. No-one would want to pass on the virus to others, but a third of people who have the coronavirus, even after receiving a vaccination, are still able to carry and potentially spread it without showing any symptoms. Regular, rapid (lateral flow) testing can help us identify cases we otherwise wouldn’t detect and by isolating, help to keep more people safe. No-one wants to isolate, but having come so far, we really must stay the course.”
Our libraries, One Stop Shops and Registrars, for example, are open for residents to access the services they need. To help protect our staff and all our service users, we will continue to expect our staff to wear face coverings, to maintain social distancing and we will retain safe one-way systems. All visitors to our buildings will be encouraged to continue to follow these simple steps. Hand sanitiser will continue to be available; we will ensure our buildings are well ventilated and we will regularly undertake the additional cleaning measures that have been in place during the pandemic.
Where our staff are working directly with the public, they will also be expected to continue to follow Covid safety measures, to keep themselves and residents safe and to ensure that our service users can feel comfortable and confident to access the services they need.
Our office-based staff are also continuing to work from home where they can, but thanks to the way we have been able to adapt to new ways of working, we are still able to provide the services our residents rely upon.