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Monday 6 July 2020 – 7.45 pm
Town centre pubs and businesses supported to reopen on Saturday
As pubs and restaurants, could start started trading again on Saturday following government guidance on easing lockdown, officers from the licensing team and community safety patrol officers were out supporting these businesses in their measures to keep people safe.
Council licensing officers visited 25 premises over the weekend, focusing on Basingstoke’s Top of the Town. Some premises were still closed and waiting to open later in the week.
Working alongside police licensing colleagues and the council’s community safety patrol officers, the licensing team observed premises as they opened and reviewed them again later in the day. In general, the premises where found to be well organised, with the required risk assessments and cleaning regimes in place. Social distancing was, for the most part, set at 1.5 metres or 1 metre plus risk mitigations.
Staff had access to PPE and could wear it if they felt the need to, kitchen staff were in mandatory PPE. Most premises had suitable signage, and appropriate guidance and remedial advice was given where signage was found to be lacking.
Most premises are doing bookings only for tables, with table service or limited bar service. Premises managers were pleased to see licensing staff and were advised to visit the COVID-19 business reopening pages, written by licensing and environmental health officers, to find updates and guidance on managing licensed premises during the reopening phase.
Licensing officers were particularly impressed with the Fur and Feathers in Herriard. However the King of Wessex in Basingstoke will require some additional guidance from police and council licensing, with remedial advice provided on the day and follow ups planned over the next week.
Licensing officers will co-ordinate with police licensing staff and other council teams going forward on further premises visits and further enforcement sessions are planned as more premises begin to open over the coming weeks.
The community safety patrol team were in liaison with the licensing team and police throughout Saturday. They worked to support a feeling of safety across the borough, in particular in locations with likely increased footfall such as Basingstoke town centre. As well as providing a coordinated patrolling presence during the daytime and evening in the town centre area, they also patrolled parks and open spaces. Patrollers provided a highly visible presence with the aim of helping to ensure visitors and residents felt safe, as well as being a deterrent to crime and antisocial behaviour.
The team spent time positively engaging with members of the public as well dealing with incidents of antisocial behaviour as they occurred. They dealt with 22 incidents across the borough on Saturday, 13 of which were in the town centre area. The majority of incidents were not related to hospitality and leisure sector businesses reopening.
Saturday also saw the welcome return of the Street Pastors carrying out their important work, supporting the economy during the evening time.
Providing ongoing support to vulnerable residents
As you may be aware, the government has announced that its shielding programme will end at the beginning of August as part of its steps to ease lockdown measures. However, this means that residents currently shielding have been advised to contact their local council if they still require additional support.
There are currently over 800 residents who receive a weekly government food parcel and although there are plans to contact these individuals to support them in making alternative arrangements, there will be people who are anxious to go to supermarkets and pharmacies so may require ongoing support.
As well as the shielded group, we know that around half of residents we are supporting through the community hub may require ongoing support as they are self-isolating or struggling with finances and social isolation.
Officers are continuing to work with Hampshire County Council and other councils to establish the expectation from government, what this means for us and how long support may be required, particularly if there is an impact from the national Test and Trace programme and any spike in local case numbers.
In addition to this, officers are working locally with Basingstoke Voluntary Action, Citizens Advice and the Basingstoke Foodbank to develop a more sustainable model and to direct residents to the best organisation to provide further support. We will continue to keep you updated.
Interim Democratic Services Manager