Some public toilets in Thanet will be reopened from May 23-24, although the council has not yet released details of which facilities will come back into use.
Toilets were closed on March 25 following the introduction of restrictions on public life in a bid to flatten the spread of coronavirus.
But restrictions were eased this week with the PM outlining a covid alert system.
The system runs from level one – no covid cases in the UK – to level five – critical risk. Boris Johnson said: “Our period of lockdown has been in level four. We are now in a position to move in steps to level 3.”
Outlining the easing proposals – which will be dependent on the rate of infection and number of hospital admissions in the country – the PM said the current R level is between 0.5-0.9. It needs to be below one for any restrictions to be lifted.
The easing included this week’s instruction that people who cannot work at home were actively encouraged to go back to work, including those in construction and manufacturing and, from yesterday, people being told they could enjoy unlimited exercise with the PM saying people can “sit in the sun, drive to other destinations, play sports with members of your own household.”
This announcement raised concerns of an influx of visitors coming to isle beaches, as well as increased numbers of residents. Among the many issues this raised was the lack of toilet facilities.
Guidance from government yesterday (May 13) says public places, such as toilets, should have
- sufficient provision of automated hand sanitising dispensers in public places
- where possible, providing hand towels as an alternative to hand dryers in handwashing facilities.
- using signs and messages to build awareness of good handwashing technique and other respiratory hygiene behaviours, e.g. around coughing and sneezing in public places
- configuration of toilet facilities to ensure they are kept clean, with social distancing achieved as far as possible and with best practice handwashing followed
- minimising use of portable toilets
- enhanced cleaning for facilities that are heavily used
Thanet council says the guidance ” is helpful and will inform our plans to open some of these facilities from next weekend (23/24 May).”
Thanet council leader Cllr Rick Everitt said: “The change in Government guidance means that more people are likely to be out enjoying Thanet’s parks, open spaces and beaches.
“Whilst the Government has said that people can visit open spaces, it is important that everyone continues to act responsibly. To help stop the spread of COVID-19, we must all follow the national guidance by staying two metres away from those not in their household.
“We also need residents and visitors using these public places to be aware that there will not be the usual access to amenities. We have been looking at how we can re-open public toilets and ensure public safety. Our toilets are currently closed but the government guidance issued yesterday is helpful and will inform our plans to open some of these facilities from next weekend (23/24 May).
“We will continue to review the Government guidance as this evolves and ensure that people are kept informed. As part of this, signage will be displayed in key locations around our coast.”
Thanet council officers are working on specific solutions for individual facilities, starting with the main beaches,
In response to the relaxing of travel restrictions, North Thanet MP Sir Roger Gale has issued a plea for people not to come to Thanet beaches, saying the unlimited travel advice is ‘sheer folly’.
Speaking from his `isolation office` the veteran MP has said: “I have spent 37 years in Parliament promoting the joys of Margate and Herne Bay in my constituency and it breaks my heart to have to say, for the moment, “Please don`t come to the seaside: we`re still shut”.
“I have dozens of small businesses facing huge losses and wanting desperately to open up and start earning a living again but if we take the shutters down too soon we could lose an entire season for the sake of another few weeks.
“Last bank holiday weekend saw hundreds of people, even before the Prime Minister had spoken on Sunday, driving down to Herne Bay and to Margate from London. I am told that `social distancing` went out of the window and the car parks were heaving. I am really concerned that some of the London media has been actively encouraging people to head for the coast again this weekend and I think that is irresponsible.
“I believe that the “drive to wherever you want to take exercise” advice from the Government is premature and possibly sheer folly. I want the seaside towns that I represent to be able to welcome people with open arms again – as we have always done in the past – but we need to take baby steps towards re-opening, not a leap in the dark.
“Get this wrong and we could be worse than right back when we started. Get it right and we could be back in business in time for the real summer holidays.”