From Monday, groups of up to six people from different households will be able to meet outside in private gardens and parks. This is as long as households keep two metres apart and everyone continues to wash their hands regularly.
It is also important that people who are deemed most vulnerable and those showing symptoms, continue to self-isolate.
I am sure, like me, you welcome these new guidelines and the opportunity to reconnect with friends and family.
RICHMOND PARK PARTIALLY RE-OPENING TO CYCLISTS FROM 2ND JUNE
Richmond Park will be partially re-opening to cyclists from Tuesday 2 June, initially on weekdays only, before 10am and after 4pm. This follows the temporary cycling suspension, which was introduced at the end of March to support the Government’s social distancing guidelines, maintain public safety and prevent serious congestion at park gates. The Royal Parks will undertake a managed reintroduction of cycling back into Richmond Park to provide access for weekday commuters, allowing them to monitor and measure the impact of the re-introduction and whether any further measures are required.
Key workers commuting to work will still be permitted to cycle through the park at any time during park opening hours. Children aged 12 and under will also still be able to cycle at any time, and their immediate family or carers will also be permitted to cycle with them.
The park roads on the Eastern side of the park around Priory Lane and Broomfield Hill will be temporarily suspended to adult cyclists at all times, in order to maintain safety and provide a safe area for children and families to play.
Royal Parks would like to thank everyone who has supported the temporary restrictions which have been in place during these unprecedented times, in order to enable the park to stay open for everyone who needs it. They would also like to thank all those cyclists, cycling groups and other park users who have given constructive feedback and suggestions on how to re-open the park safely.
DENTISTS CAN PROVIDE FACE-TO-FACE CARE FROM 8TH JUNE
The Government has given the green light for the restoration of routine care services in England.
NHS England and the Chief Dental Officer have now confirmed that practices can provide face-to-face patient care from 8 June. This could see varying levels of treatments made available, with individual practitioners exercising their professional judgement on the pace of change.
The full letter to dental practices from Sara Hurley, the Chief Dental Officer, and Matt Neligan, the Director of Primary Care and System Transformation, can be read here.
The British Dental Association have said that whilst they welcome the news, they also want to note the caveat that availability and fitting of PPE, social distancing measures and appropriate cross-infection control may mean practices will have to move at different rates.
They are continuing to press for the NHS contractual framework to reflect the new reality and for additional support for private dentistry, including a business rates holiday – already offered to leisure and retail sectors – to be expanded to dental practices, alongside other support to mitigate against reduced patient numbers. Business rates holidays is something I will also continue to press the Government on.
SUPPORT FOR THE UK CATERING INDUSTRY
I am backing a cross-party campaign urging the Government to support the UK’s Catering industry through this crisis. We have written to the Chancellor of the Exchequer to express our concerns over the exclusion of the UK’s Catering industry from the Government’s proposals to support hospitality businesses.
The UK’s Catering industry is made up of thousands of small and medium sized businesses, contributing significantly to the UK economy every year. Most of these businesses have minimal reserves to help them ride out the crisis, with many expecting to go bankrupt without the urgent support of the Government.
The measures we are proposing would provide a lifeline to this vital industry and would help them to continue their immense cultural, social and economic contribution to this country.
EXTENSION TO BREXIT TRANSITION BILL
The Liberal Democrats have introduced a Bill to require the Government to seek a two-year extension to the Brexit transition period.
To crash out of the Brexit transition period when our NHS & economy are already stretched due to COVID-19, would be unthinkable. It is irresponsible, and it would be a huge betrayal of our hardworking NHS and care staff.
Extending the Brexit transition period must be a priority. Our Bill would help ensure a two-year extension to work with our European partners and prevent a catastrophic No Deal Brexit after the COVID-19 crisis.
CORONAVIRUS COMMUNITY SUPPORT FUND
The Coronavirus Community Support Fund is now open. This new funding stream makes £200m available that will be aimed primarily at small to medium organisations in England.
The aim of the programme is to support organisations to continue to deliver vital services to people and communities affected by COVID-19. They can fund activities supporting people and communities affected by COVID-19. And can also help organisations overcome any acute financial difficulties they are facing because of the pandemic.
TFL GUIDANCE ON RETURNING TO WORK SAFELY
Transport for London (TfL) has published advice for businesses on how they can play a part in controlling the spread of COVID-19 as national restrictions on movement are lifted.
TfL is working hard to return services to normal despite staff members still ill, shielding or self-isolating. It is currently operating around 75% of Tube services and around 85% of bus services. However, even if 100% of services were operating, the number of people TfL would be able to safely carry would be around 13-15% of normal whilst social distancing remains.
Measures to help enable social distancing are being put in place. These include:
New signage, some restricted station entry and one-way and queuing systems.
The introduction of hand sanitiser points across the transport network
The introduction of an enhanced cleaning regime on the network
Businesses can help enable social distancing by keeping the numbers of people travelling on public transport down. TfL has asked all employers to give the following advice to their staff:
Everyone who can work from home should continue to do so.
If you must travel, plan ahead and travel outside of the busiest times (Peak times are 05:45-08:15 and 16:00-17:30) You should take the most direct route and avoid busy interchanges.
Wear a face covering and do not travel if you have any symptoms of the virus.
Maintain social distancing throughout stations. You may be asked to wait to enter a station, use one-way systems or walk on the left.
If travelling by bus, please maintain social distancing at stops and stations wherever possible.
Wash your hands before and after travel and carry hand sanitiser with you.
Please be considerate to transport staff and follow their instructions.
If you can, please walk or cycle for all or part of your journey. TfL has been introducing a wide range of improvements to widen footpaths and provide more cycle lanes.
TfL’s advice to business is available here.
SOME BUSES TO RETURN TO FRONT-DOOR BOARDING
A number of London bus routes will return to front door boarding from tomorrow, with customers required to touch in with Oyster, contactless and concessionary cards. New limits to the number of customers on board at any one time will also be introduced to further ensure the safety of customers and bus drivers.
124 different bus routes will have signage instructing customers to board using the front door as of Saturday and it will be reinstated on further bus routes as soon as possible. It is anticipated that all London buses will have returned to front-door boarding by mid-June.
Double-decker buses will be able to carry 20 customers. Single-decker buses, depending on the size of the bus, will carry between six and 10 customers. The driver will have discretion to allow more customers on board if they are travelling in households or groups.
I have received a number of emails from constituents concerned about anti-social behaviour in Richmond. Particularly around Richmond Terrace, Richmond Green and the Riverside. I have today written to Sally Benatar (Met Police Commander for SW London) on these issues but I would also ask that if you witness anti-social behaviour, please do contact the local police on 101. This ensures they keep abreast of key hotspots that they need to monitor going forward.
FIRST ‘SCHOOL STREETS’ TO BE IN PLACE NEXT WEEK
Richmond Council has used emergency powers to ensure that three local primary schools will be the first in the borough to receive ‘School Street’ status in time for the resumption of teaching next week. The three schools are Twickenham Primary Academy (GEMS), Orleans Primary School and St Stephen’s Church of England’s Primary School.
A School Street is where a road(s) around a school temporarily closes to all motor vehicles except those of residents; thereby becoming a pedestrian and cycle zone during the school’s opening and closing times. They ensure a safer space for children around their school, contribute to reduced local pollution and encourage parents and children to opt for sustainable travel methods, like walking and cycling.
These three school streets will be reviewed during the summer and if considered a success, the Council will then consider permanently introducing these schemes. Other primary schools across the borough are invited to contact Richmond Council to ensure further schemes are ready to be deployed in time for the start of the new academic year.
KEW GARDENS REOPENING
From Monday, a phased reopening of the gardens will begin. However, to keep visitors and staff safe, they have limited visitor capacity in this opening phase. If you wish to visit, it is now essential that you book a timeslot online beforehand or entry will be refused.
SEGREGATED CYCLE LANE ON KEW ROAD
Single yellow line parking will be removed from Kew Road outside of Kew Gardens and protective barriers will be installed to create a 24-hour mandatory northbound cycle lane. This is part of Richmond Council’s Post-COVID Transport Action Plan.
The water barriers installed outside of Kew Gardens will be temporary and will be replaced with semi-permanent measures that will preserve the cycleway but not reinstate parking.
The Council believes that these measures are crucial in discouraging unnecessary visits by car, as well as supporting much-needed cycling infrastructure at the same location.
They will be consulting residents and businesses across Kew about the future operation of the existing Controlled Parking Zones (CPZs) and on the possibility of implementing a new CPZ in the area around Kew Green.