Leeds City Council has issued guidance for residents, visitors and businesses as hospitality and entertainment venues prepare to reopen this weekend.
From Saturday July 4, restaurants, bars, leisure and entertainment venues can reopen as part of the latest relaxation of restrictions due to Covid-19.
Working with representatives of the businesses concerned as well as partners and stakeholders, the council has been planning for the resumption of trading with a range of measures focused on supporting city centre businesses while keeping customers and staff safe.
Letters are being sent to all relevant businesses in the city centre with the details of the guidelines and measures in place. These include materials available to help businesses such as signage and social distancing visuals, while a team of council night marshals will be operating over both of the first two weekends of the reopening to guide the public especially in busy locations. West Yorkshire Police will also be supporting the reopening with extra resources on hand.
Where possible, pavement widening has been put in place to provide more space for people to move safely, as the social distancing guidance remains keeping two metres apart or if that is not possible one metre plus supporting measures to reduce the risk of spreading the virus.
To adhere to social distancing, most venues will be operating with reduced capacities through online bookings or a first-come first-served basis. Opening times may be varied, with contactless payment being used where possible. Music levels in all venues will be restricted to ensure customers can talk normally, with no live band performances allowed.
Signage and reminders of safety messages will be visible in popular areas across the city centre, along with hand sanitiser stations. Additional cleaning will be carried out, especially on objects being touched such as benches, bins and push buttons as well as at transport interchanges.
Improvement schemes already underway in the city centre such the refurbishment of Greek Street creating new public space and the Connecting Leeds work on The Headrow and Infirmary Street have been accelerated where possible to aid safe social distancing by creating more space and wider footways.
With table service being advised to ensure safety of customers and hospitality staff, the council is considering extending pedestrianisation of areas in the city centre to help accommodate more outside table provision safely. The council is also fasttracking temporary street café licence applications in the city centre, which will be considered on a case-by-case basis with public safety being the key to any decisions made. A factsheet of frequently asked questions around temporary street café licences is also available.
The message on using public transport remains to only use it if necessary, and everyone who does must wear a face covering with contactless payment to be used if possible. Services are operating with reduced capacity, so allow for longer journey times.
Taxis and private hire vehicles will be available from taxi ranks or by hailing, but with reduced numbers operating pre-booking is advised. They may have additional requirements, such as limits on the number of people per vehicle, and face coverings, so it is advised to check that when booking and to be aware that some operators may decline to accept customers who do not have a face covering.
In addition to those already open, an increase in hospitality venues will provide more toilets available to be used by the public across the city centre.
Car parking charges resume in Leeds from July 4, with more information available at https://www.visitleeds.co.uk/resources/car-parking-in-leeds/
The council continues to work with partners to provide essential support to help rough sleepers and those with a street-based lifestyle, including access to accommodation, food and individual assistance. Anyone with concerns for the welfare of people on the street can contact 0113 2459445.
With the threat of the virus still present, direct donations of cash or food have increased health risks for both the person on the street and anyone donating. It can also prevent people accessing the help they really need and that support currently in place for them elsewhere. Support can be donated to Big Change Leeds at https://www.bigchangeleeds.co.uk/
In terms of areas and districts outside of the city centre, the council is currently considering how best to offer support and guidance with discussions with businesses and stakeholders.
Leader of Leeds City Council Councillor Judith Blake said: “We know many people are looking forward to venues reopening, but we would appeal to everyone to respect the rules to ensure venues can keep staff and customers safe. This is another important step in our city centre reopening and bringing its economy back to life.
“We are working closely with businesses and partners to do all we can to help the reopening run smoothly, but we need everyone to play their part to make it a success and keep everyone safe.”
For all the latest information on Leeds City Council support go to https://www.leeds.gov.uk/coronavirus.