Question from: County Councillor Gareth Ratcliffe Subject: Community social distancing
As restrictions are lifted across the UK communities, like Hay-on-Wye, are trying to adjust to the new normal.
What support can the Council give communities on social distancing on main business streets where pavements do not allow 2m distancing? Also personal hygiene is critical and facilities to ensure hand washing are available in public areas. Does the Council have a way of supporting gel stations or other alternatives to protect the public? Finally, what powers do the Council have to enforce breeches of the social distancing rules in this area?
Response by the Portfolio Holder:
The coronavirus (COVID-19) crisis has had a significant impact on the lives; and in some cases the health, of Powys residents, as well as severe economic consequences.
When considering the recovery of services and businesses, and the associated ‘re-opening’ of our towns, the measures for social distancing and hygiene set out by government are being taken into account. It is accepted that the risks associated with Covid19 infection outdoors is considerably lower than in more confined environments, but we recognise that targeted and localised reallocation of road space in our town centres to facilitate social distancing where there are narrow footways etc adjacent to shops and businesses will aide in reducing these risks further. Like many other local authorities across Wales and the UK we are planning to ‘widen’ pavements by cordoning off some on-street parking and where appropriate closing streets or road lanes. This is intended to encourage businesses to re-open and for people to shop in the knowledge they can do so safely. It is difficult to predict the exact behaviour or demand, so there will inevitably be the need to refine these measures; in collaboration with local councillors and residents, as we move forward through the recovery phase.
I can also advise that we have submitted an expression of interest to the Welsh Government for funding under their Local Sustainable Transport Covid Response Fund 2020-21, to provide temporary measures in our main towns, including Hay on Wye, which will assist in facilitating social distancing in specific locations. We are currently awaiting confirmation of this grant, whilst drawing up initial plans, and we will engage with the local County Councillors and town councils shortly, with a view to continuing the liaison to progress any further developments. All such plans are of course subject to the easing of lockdown announcements.