Police and council leaders highlight efforts to tackle Covid-19 as Christmas arrives in Stoke-on-Trent
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Shoppers and traders in Stoke-on-Trent have been urged to continue adhering to current Covid-19 Tier 3 restrictions as the busy festive season arrives – as police and council officials target hotspot locations in an effort to drive the number of cases down.
Staffordshire Police’s neighbourhood officers and Stoke-on-Trent City Council’s Covid-19 stewards have been patrolling various town centres and responding to complaints to ensure visitors respect the current guidelines while supporting businesses to operate in a safe way.
And residents are being urged to be mindful of other shoppers, respect social distancing and not overcrowd in shops, in order to protect their own health.
As announced yesterday, the city and county remain in a Very High Alert level where hospitality venues remain closed and the rule of six applies to those meeting outdoors. As the number of confirmed cases in the Potteries remains high, officials are calling on residents to wear face coverings and maintain social distancing in a united effort to bring the worrying figures down.
While complaints and concerns to the authority’s public protection team about residents and businesses not following the Coronavirus restrictions have decreased over the past two weeks, concerns about shoppers and in particular some barbers shops not following the rules remain.
In response the council’s Covid stewards have been out in high footfall areas and have been paying particular attention to the city centre and a hotspot area in Waterloo Road in Burslem.
Council leader Abi Brown said: “I’m very pleased and encouraged to say that the vast majority of shops are following every Covid-secure measure.
“The problem that we are seeing is that shoppers and visitors to towns and the city centre aren’t always following the rules. The city centre in particular has been very busy and our stewards have been able to help and advise shops that are crowded.
“Our advice to all residents is if you have concerns that people are not following the guidelines, don’t go there: don’t go into the shop, stay clear of busy areas. We have had reports of barber shops where the correct PPE isn’t being worn, and our stewards are continuing to visit hotspot areas. We urge people to continue to wear their face coverings and to maintain social distancing.”
Hanley PCSO Liz Old, of Stoke-on-Trent North Neighbourhood Policing Team, is among the officers helping to educate shoppers and traders in the city centre. She said: “We work really well with the Covid stewards and they will let us know of any issues.
“The majority of businesses in Hanley have worked so hard around getting the right queuing systems in place and everyone involved in the city centre wants to see them succeed.
“If we feel there are too many people in a particular shop all at the same time then we will respond.”
Chief Inspector Mark Barlow, of Stoke-on-Trent North NPT, added: “This has been a very challenging year nationally and for our city - and people are keen to enjoy some form of normality at Christmas. As part of this people want to visit our city centre to do their shopping over the festive season. We would urge people to be mindful of their own health and wellbeing along with that of those around them. We will always provide help, advice and support but will work with our partners to take enforcement where the rules are not being followed.”
Officers with Stoke-on-Trent South Neighbourhood Policing Team have also been working with the council’s Covid stewards at locations including Longton Park and the town centre.
Chief Inspector Rob Hessell, of Stoke-on-Trent South NPT, has been pleased to see the work between stewards and his officers. He said: “We have worked very hard to ensure our towns and shopping areas are safe places to visit. But both businesses and shoppers must do their bit to help reduce the number of cases we have in our city.
“Our neighbourhood officers have increased patrols in Longton following concerns over anti-social behavior and we are pleased to see the impact this is already having. In addition, we must also police the Covid-19 restrictions and so it is important we continue to work with our partners – including the city council and the Covid stewards – to make sure people enjoy a safe and prosperous Christmas but also take responsibility for their own actions.”
The council leader added: "Our public protection team are continuing to follow up complaints we receive and offer advice to businesses, whilst sharing intelligence with the Police. We continue to urge people to report issues to us by emailing [email protected] or calling 01782 234234.”