By Councillor Tobin Byers, Cabinet Member for Health, Social Care and Environment
This week, along with the rest of the country, we will see a number of relaxations on the lockdown rules.
It now means some of us can meet up with up to 6 people from different households, in a private garden or open spaces and two metres apart. This will then be followed by a phased re-opening of our high streets across the borough – where social distancing guidelines will be in place for every shop and retailer.
However, this remains a period of really high risk. The responsibility for controlling the virus now sits with us as residents and it’s down to us to make sure we stay alert.
To help you stay safe, we’ve put together a list of basic, but essential considerations for us all to remember:
- Who to meet: The government guidance is for the general public who are fit and well, so think about who you are meeting – consider their age and any medical conditions they may have.
- Interactions: Try to limit the number of people you see, especially over short periods of time. The more people you interact with, the more chance the virus has to spread.
- Social distancing: To maintain social distancing with 6 people you would need a quarter of a tennis court! Which is massive! Make sure you have enough space to meet with family and friends. If you are meeting in one of the borough’s parks, remember that law will prohibit public gatherings, of more than six people from different households.
- Washing-hands: If you’re in a park or private garden you probably won’t be able to wash your hands, as the guidance stats not to go indoors unless you need the toilet urgently, or are passing through to access the garden or go home. So bring hand gel and use it regularly.
- Reunions: You’re not allowed to hug people – that’s the rules. This will be hard for young children as they are unlikely to understand. So talk to your children and be mindful this could make them a little upset when seeing family members.
- The clean-up: The virus either moves through the air, or it moves through droplets coming out of people’s mouths and landing on surfaces and people touching it. If you are meeting in a park make sure you clear away and dispose of all your litter. With more people using our parks, bins become full very quickly. So if they are full, bag your rubbish, take it home and dispose of it there. And make sure you use hand gel or wash your hands as soon as you can.
But remember, you should continue to stay alert and limit your contact with others. Staying at home is the easiest way to do this.
It’s also very important that if you are showing coronavirus symptoms, or if you or any of your household are self-isolating – maybe you have been contacted as part of the test and trace programme, you should stay at home as this is critical to staying safe and saving lives.
Thank you for reading and stay safe.
Councillor Tobin Byers
Cabinet Member for Health, Adult Social Care and the Environment
Notes for readers:
- Government guidance: Staying alert and safe (social distancing).
- Government guidance: Activity outside the home.
- Merton Council guidance: Parks and open spaces.