This week we have seen more people using our parks and open spaces following the Government’s advice that we are allowed to spend longer outdoors.
As a result, we have re-opened some facilities, such as basketball courts, bowls greens and tennis courts. But one thing has not changed and that is the continuing need for social distancing. Keeping at least two metres apart from people not in your household remains essential. Otherwise, we risk losing all that we have gained over the past two months. We must not risk another spike in the virus and an ensuing increase in deaths and a new threat to our NHS.
I was pleased to see the positive reaction to the “NHS flower beds” our staff have planted in our parks. They are a reminder of what we owe to everyone in the health and care sector.
Another sign of the move back towards “normality” was the reintroduction of garden waste collection, which was suspended at the start of the lockdown. This was to protect our resources and now we have the capacity to collect brown bins again.
I know this was a welcome move as we picked up a huge amount of garden waste last week. On Tuesday our bin crews picked up 187 tonnes of it – a 163% increase in the weight of the material collected compared to 71 tonnes from the same time last year.
I am being cautious when I use the term “normality”. None of us knows how long this fight against Coronavirus will be and how long before we can fully reopen our public buildings again.
However, more shops have been given the green light to resume trading – alongside those food shops and their staff who have been a lifeline for residents. The council will be working with its partners to ensure the town centre is a safe place as more people start to use it again to shop and work.
I hope to bring more details of this work in a future column. In the meantime, I urge you all to continue to follow the social distancing rules and stay safe.