Date Published: 09 July 2020
Council Leader Oliver Hemsley has given his latest update on Rutland's response to COVID-19:
The past week has been hugely significant for households and businesses across the country.
After non-essential high street stores were given the go-ahead to reopen on 15 June, Saturday (4 July) saw the reopening of pubs, restaurants and hairdressers that have been closed for several months. This means the majority of our local businesses are now back open and trading again, as long as the right social distancing measures are in place. To support businesses in these efforts, Rutland County Council will be continuing with free parking in both our market towns throughout the summer.
Monday was also a major milestone for people in England who have been following the government’s ‘shielding’ advice. After a change to official guidelines, people in this vulnerable group can now spend time outdoors with up to five other people, or seek support from another household if they live alone. If things continue as they are, the government has indicated that shielding will be paused August.
Despite the ongoing pandemic, Rutland County Council has worked hard to maintain local services. Most have been operating throughout, with restrictions. Some have provided a partial offer and a small number have had to be closed. The lingering presence of COVID-19 means the majority of services must continue to run with restrictions for the foreseeable future, so they are both safe and sustainable.
Waste and recycling services are one such example where sustainability is key. To ensure we can provide a Household Waste and Recycling Centre service and continue to collect some 24,000 grey, green and black bins each week, we will only operate one of our two Household Waste and Recycling Centres for the time being.
Services that provide care for vulnerable adults and children were extremely busy before the pandemic and have seen a further increase in demand as a direct result of the virus. We have maintained a dedicated helpline for residents throughout the crisis and reached out to more than 1,500 vulnerable people to provide offers of help and support. Many of our officers are only just returning to normal roles having been redirected to other duties, such as supporting food deliveries and medicine collections. This means we can now work towards extending our current offer in some service areas, including the safe reopening of some physical library services.
Councils across the country have faced and will continue to face many pressures because of COVID-19. Collectively, we are calling on the government to provide the extra support we need.
Here in Rutland, we are also particularly mindful of the situation in Leicester and want to thank residents and businesses for continuing to act responsibly and sticking to the rules.
After the initial crisis, we need to work together to balance the running of local services and industries with public safety and the need to stay prepared for all eventualities. Whatever does come next, protecting the lives and livelihoods of people in Rutland remains our number one priority.
Councillor Oliver Hemsley
Leader of Rutland County Council