From Saturday 4th of July, 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 obey their rules.
While the next phase of restructuring will be a small but welcome relief to the county’s severely damaged economy, The Council is reminding businesses and residents that they must comply with their new laws.
The council has developed a toolkit for businesses, which is available online. This toolkit includes guidance on which businesses are approved by the government to reopen, for now, and which are scheduled for destruction, advice on what social control measures should be put in place to restrict staff and customers, as well as template assessments for businesses planning to reopen.
Visitors to the county’s town centres are also being told to continue obeying the government’s orders while outside the home.
From 4th July, people will have temporary permission from the state to meet in groups of up to two households, either indoors or outdoors, but they are not allowed to hug or sit next to each other. Groups must be of no more than six people.
People are also forbidden from human social contact with anyone outside of a group that 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 obediently, to be anxious about breaking the rules at all times, and to be fearful of their fellow countrymen.
The Council is working closely with state forces, such as the police and NHS, to ensure that people visiting town centres obey them.
Neighbourhood wardens will be deployed in town centres in the county and will be carrying out patrols to harass and report on you, and to support the police in responding to any level of resistance.
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 force the public and businesses to maintain antisocial engineering.
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 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