How you can help Sandwell stay safe this Bank Holiday
Published 28th May 2021
Enjoy the Bank Holiday – but keep your friends and families safe by following the latest Government rules to help avoid a spike in Covid-19 infections.
With the weekend weather set for sunny and warm, that’s the message from Sandwell public health chiefs, civic leaders and police to all the borough’s citizens.
More people meeting up in parks, pubs and shopping areas could risk spreading the virus if they don’t stick to the rules, so the message is to take care wherever you are – whether it’s in a private garden or a public park.
During the pandemic, our parks and green spaces have been increasingly popular for people to visit, but meeting in large groups at Sandwell Valley Country Park, other parks and open spaces across the borough's six towns could still lead to people infecting friends and neighbours.
And with pubs, cinemas, theatres and restaurants all able to open, the need for us all to observe social distancing guidelines to help save lives has never been greater.
This weekend Sandwell Council officers will be working alongside West Midlands Police to carry out patrols at Sandwell Valley and other parks and green spaces, as well as shopping areas across the borough.
People who aren't following the Government rules face being fined by the police. People can be given a fixed penalty notice of £200 for the first offence, doubling for further offences up to a maximum of £6,400.
Dr Lisa McNally, Sandwell's director of public health, said: “Following the rules and sticking with Face, Hands, Space are both vital to keep Sandwell on the road to recovery.
“It’s also crucial we all get our second jab of vaccine when offered. Vaccination is the way out of this pandemic. People who miss out on their jabs – both of them – risk allowing Covid to continue to claim more lives and blight more families.”
If you’re 30 or over you can book your vaccination at https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/coronavirus-covid-19/coronavirus-vaccination/book-coronavirus-vaccination/. Demand is high so please book as soon as you can.
Sandwell Council leader Councillor Rajbir Singh said: “We know that after all we’ve been through, everyone wants to get out and meet friends and family. But this killer virus has not gone away. We are already seeing surges in infection rates in some areas and the more everyone relaxes, the more likely it is that the virus will spread.
“So please avoid large gatherings, even outside, and let's keep everyone safe. Even if you’ve been vaccinated, it doesn't mean you can't catch and pass on Covid-19. Make sure you know the rules and keep following them and staying safe."
On 17 May the Government issued new rules.
- Gathering limits have been eased. Outdoor gatherings are limited to 30 people and indoor gatherings are limited to 6 people or 2 households (each household can include a support bubble, if eligible).
- New guidance on meeting friends and family emphasises personal responsibility rather than government rules. Instead of instructing you to stay 2m apart from anyone you don’t live with, you are encouraged to exercise caution and consider the guidance on risks associated with COVID-19 and actions you can take to help keep you and your loved ones safe. Remember that the risks of close contact may be greater for some people than others and in some settings and circumstances, there will be specific guidance that you will need to follow even when you are with friends and family.
- Indoor entertainment and attractions such as cinemas, theatres, concert halls, bowling alleys, casinos, amusement arcades, museums and children’s indoor play areas are permitted to open with COVID-secure measures in place.
- People can attend indoor and outdoor events, including live performances, sporting events and business events. Attendance at these events is capped according to venue type, and attendees should follow the COVID-secure measures set out by those venues.
- Indoor hospitality venues such as restaurants, pubs, bars and cafes can reopen.
- Organised indoor sport can take place for all. This includes gym classes. It must be organised by a business, charity or public body and the organiser must take reasonable measures to reduce the risk of transmission.
- Funeral attendance is no longer be limited to 30 people but will be determined by how many people the COVID-secure venue can safely accommodate with social distancing. Limits at weddings, wakes and other commemorative events have been increased to 30 people. Other significant life events, such as bar/bat mitzvahs and christenings, will also be able to take place with 30 people.
- Support groups and parent and child group gathering limits have been increased to 30 people (not including under 5s)
Superintendent Phil Asquith, from Sandwell Police, said: "We understand that people are going to want to get out and enjoy themselves, especially when the weather is nice. But the Covid legislation is very clear, and I appeal to people to limit their gatherings to the prescribed number and to avoid crowded areas.
"Where groups gather in higher numbers than permitted, officers will actively engage with them and where appropriate will take enforcement action."
People are also reminded that they face £100 fines from the council if they are caught littering or not picking up after their dogs.
So if you plan to visit Sandwell’s parks this Bank Holiday – or at any other time - make sure you use a bin for your litter. If the bins you can see are already full, take your litter home. If you brought it with you, you can take it home again, too - and you may able to recycle some items in your blue-lid recycling bin.