As infection rates rise in Bath and North East Somerset residents, businesses and visitors are being encouraged to remain cautious and look after each other following the Government’s planned lifting of Covid-19 restrictions.
From Monday July 19 most legal restrictions to control Covid-19 will be lifted at step 4 and new government guidance will be introduced.
Councillor Kevin Guy, leader of Bath & North East Somerset Council, said: “Just because the restrictions are being lifted doesn’t mean Covid has gone away. Case numbers are rising, frontline NHS and social care health staff are still under considerable pressure, as are businesses and organisations. So, we need to be cautious, look after each other and continue to minimise the risk of catching and spreading Covid. We’re also asking people to be respectful to our staff who are working to keep us all safe and we won’t tolerate abusive behaviour towards them.
“The good news is that we know the vaccine reduces the risk of getting very ill and we are urging people to get their first and second jabs and to follow the new guidance.”
Amongst the new guidance you will not need to stay 2 metres apart from people you do not live with. There will also be no limits on the number of people you can meet.
The requirement to wear face coverings in law will be lifted. However, the government expects and recommends that people wear face coverings in crowded areas such as public transport.
And people are advised to minimise risk at a time of high prevalence, to limit the close contact with those you do not usually live with and increase close contact gradually. This includes minimising the number, proximity and duration of social contacts.
Becky Reynolds, B&NES director of Public Health, said: “While it is understandable that many people are looking forward to Monday with anticipation, opening is not without some risk and many in our communities remain vulnerable. We can all help reduce risks by getting double jabbed and getting tested if we have symptoms and self-isolating if the test is positive. We can also continue to clean our hands regularly, wear a face covering in crowded areas and have good ventilation in buildings – better still meet outdoors where possible. All this helps each of us reduce the risk to ourselves and others.”
From Monday people entering B&NES Council buildings including the Guildhall and libraries will be expected to wear a face covering unless exempt. Whilet social distancing will no longer be a legal requirement we are encouraging everyone to respect personal space as case numbers continue to rise.
The Roman Baths, Fashion Museum and Victoria Art Gallery will be maintaining reduced capacity, booking tickets in advance, and asking visitors and staff to keep social distancing and wear a facemask unless exempt while in the indoor sections of the museums. This is in line with industry best practice and guidance issued by the Association of Leading Visitor Attractions.
The majority of measures to help with social distancing on narrow pavements and busy streets will start to be removed from Monday in line with government guidance. The roads will be returned to as they were before, and any parking spaces that were temporarily removed will be restored.
The temporary access restrictions in the city centre will remain in place for the time being to give people confidence to return to some of the more popular but sometimes crowded parts of Bath.
The roads affected are Cheap Street, Westgate Street, Saw Close, Upper Borough Walls, York Street, Milsom Street and Kingsmead Square.
Full consideration is being made on the impact of these access restrictions on disabled people and those with walking difficulties. A number of temporary disabled bays have been provided in nearby roads which can be seen on this map https://www.bathnes.gov.uk/sites/default/files/temporary_disabled_bays_0.pdf