It has been quite a couple of weeks with a lot of announcements from central government. Probably the most significant is that from this Friday, the 24th, it will be a legal requirement to wear a face mask/covering when we go into shops or supermarkets or travel on public transport. Judging from my own experience of shopping in Aylesbury, Amersham and High Wycombe recently, this will mean a change for many shoppers. Nevertheless, we must all do our best to keep each other safe.
However, young children under 11 years old and some adults are exempt from the new rules, for example, if you have a physical or mental illness, disability or impairment. Also, if you are with someone who relies on lip reading to communicate.
Reopening of leisure centres
Following the government's announcement that gyms and leisure centres in England can prepare to reopen from Saturday 25 July, I'm pleased to announce that we're working in partnership with our leisure centre operators to reopen our centres for the public.
Most of our leisure facilities will reopen but there will be changes to how people can access the centres and use the facilities to ensure safety and accessibility. Please be aware that the Chesham and Chalfont centres will remain closed for a few months to enable a £4m programme of investment to improve the facilities to take place.
Please bear with us during these preparations and we'll provide more information as soon as it's available.
Disposal of PPE
Many people are already using Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) masks when out and about. However, from Friday, when it becomes necessary to wear masks when shopping, we're asking everyone to take care to dispose of used masks responsibly. Already it's disappointing to see masks left on pavements and at the side of the road. Please take used masks home with you and, since masks are not recyclable, put them in your normal rubbish bins – not the recycling bins.
I want to update all our residents who've been shielding for the last few months. We're continuing to offer help and support to all of you as you prepare to adjust to the changes to the national shielding programme – which will pause on Friday 31 July.
Anyone who's been shielding can already meet other people outdoors in groups of up to six. You also no longer need to socially distance from people you live with. From Saturday 1 August, you'll be able to return to work and visit the shops, although you must carry on taking care to minimise contact with people you don't live with and maintain strict social distancing.
If you're worried about the food parcels ending and are not sure how you will manage – or if you have any other concerns about returning to a more normal lifestyle on 1 August – please contact us on 01296 395 000 or fill in this form requesting support.
You can read in detail all the latest advice from the government by clicking this link. It also contains guides in various languages so you may find it helpful to pass on this information if you know someone in your community who might need it.
British Grand Prix races at Silverstone
This year's British Grand Prix event will consist of two races over consecutive weekends (31 July – 2 August and 7 – 9 August) and will be held behind closed doors with strict controls in place as a result of coronavirus.
Although the races will take place behind closed doors, there will still need to be local road and footpath restrictions to ensure safety and control access to the circuit. We have been working with Silverstone to implement the local measures needed. These include:
- Parking restrictions and enforcement in the vicinity (including Dadford Road) to prevent unauthorised parking, with coning as per previous F1 Grand Prix.
- Closure of certain roads to non-residents and non-race personnel to prevent non-event traffic from accessing the venue.
- Managed access for local residents only on public footpaths and bridleways in the immediate vicinity of the circuit.
- Increased police presence in the area.
- Use of Highways England signage on approach roads to warn travellers that the venue and local area are closed.
- Enhanced physical screening and security measures around the boundary to prevent people viewing from outside the venue.
- A restricted airspace will be in place in and around the circuit for both events.
- A robust communication plan with agencies and authorities advising fans to stay away from the venue and detailing the measures put in place that remove any incentive to speculatively travel.
I'd like to remind fans to stay away over both weekends and let the races take place without compromising the safety arrangements put in place.
For further information, please visit the Local Resident Information tab at: www.silverstone.co.uk/about/local-community
Coronavirus testing centres
It's essential that if you or another person you live with develops symptoms of coronavirus that you book a test as soon as possible. Testing is most effective as soon as symptoms emerge, and it also gives the maximum amount of time to trace close contacts so that they can isolate too.
Currently, we have mobile testing facilities available in Aylesbury from Wednesday 22 July for up to three days, and in High Wycombe, there will be testing facilities available on Sunday 26 July. Please note these are in addition to other local and regional testing sites available for Buckinghamshire residents to use.
We've been speaking with people working in community programmes who support those in need. And last week, Hannah from Youth Concern sent us a two-minute video sharing how they've continued supporting youngsters throughout the coronavirus crisis, and who really do need a helping hand. This is support not just for now – but to help set them up for a positive future as well.
Please take two minutes out of your day to view this video and see what work has been carried out to provide these youngsters with a safe place to stay and learn new skills.