As I write businesses across our borough from Crystal Palace to Coulsdon – pubs, restaurants, hairdressers and many more – are preparing to welcome back customers tomorrow for the first time in months.
Throughout this pandemic, we have seen so many Croydon businesses going the extra mile – from offering free meals to NHS workers, to donating to foodbanks – and simply going above and beyond to be there for their customers in the most challenging of circumstances.
We have seen so many examples of creativity, innovation and above all determination in their response to this crisis, as they have swiftly adapted and found new ways to continue serving their community.
If there is something positive that can come out of this dreadful health crisis, it has been an opportunity for many of us to rediscover and appreciate the gems in our own neighbourhoods – the shops on the corner or the park at the end of our road.
They have been there for us – and now it is time for us to be there for them.
As a council we have provided thousands of businesses with advice and guidance to help them operate in line with government guidance, and precautions and measures that will help them restart as safely as possible.
And now I would ask all of you to do your bit.
If we truly want to support our businesses the most important thing we can do is be responsible in how we do it and minimise the health risk to ourselves and others.
That means sticking to the social distancing guidelines when we are out, practising good hygiene, respecting the new measures they might have in place and behaving responsibly and considerately to others.
So if you are heading out this weekend, perhaps popping into your local pub for a pint or returning to your favourite restaurant or having a long-awaited haircut, please enjoy yourselves – but do it safely.
And for those businesses who are still unable to operate, you are not forgotten – we are acutely aware of your circumstances and this makes it all the more important that we all do all we can to keep the infection rate low, so that this gradual easing of restrictions can continue.
Test and Trace
You may find local businesses asking you for your contact details to support the Government’s Test and Trace system.
This is to help protect your local community – your family, friends, neighbours and Croydon – by helping to contain any outbreaks of Covid-19 as much as possible.
If we don’t follow this important guidance then we could be risking a local lockdown as we have seen this week in Leicester, which would put us firmly back at square one – something no one wants.
Public toilets and parks
We are also reopening some of our own services – public toilets are now open, with new measures in place to minimise the risk to public health.
If you visit a park, you will notice that outdoor gyms and playgrounds are now open but I must stress that you use these at your own risk – they are not sanitised.
If you do choose to use them, then please take precautions – regular hand-washing and keep your distance from others.
And remember, there are many ways to enjoy our parks and spaces without using the equipment – but if you do visit our parks for a picnic or to meet with friends, then please dispose of your litter responsibly.
We have seen a rise in littering in recent weeks which is a shame when so many people have been enjoying our parks and they have been a lifeline to some, particularly at the moment when travel options are limited.
So if a bin is full, then don’t leave your rubbish next to it or on top of it – take it home with you. It makes a huge difference to everyone else.
NHS 72nd birthday
This Sunday we celebrate another important milestone – the 72nd birthday of our NHS.
On Saturday night our Town Hall will be lit blue and we will fly the NHS flag to celebrate this incredible institution, which has been tested to the limit throughout this pandemic; all those who work for it and our own frontline council staff who have also done so much in going above and beyond for their community.
We thank you for all you have done and continue to do for us and I hope Croydon will join me in taking part in the national Clap for Carers on Sunday at 5pm in recognition.
Have a good weekend,
Councillor Tony Newman, leader of the council