Keeping a watchful eye

Significant policing, environmental health inspections and support from street marshals are among measures being put in place in Bath city centre this weekend as the easing of the lockdown comes into effect and the night-time economy reopens.

Licenced premises, such as pubs and restaurants, will be able to open from Saturday, as part of the easing of the lockdown, providing they adhere to certain restrictions set out by the government.

In addition to policing, Bath and North East Somerset Council’s environmental health and licensing officers will be out in the city from 10am on Saturday and then again in the evening from 9pm, visiting premises, to advise and ensure they are Covid-19 compliant.

Bath Business Improvement District (BID) marshals will also be out in the city providing support during the afternoon and in the evening as the night-time economy resumes.

Anyone using transport to get into the city is reminded to wear face masks if using public transport and to plan ahead because of the reduced capacity on buses and trains.

Visitors thinking of using the train to come into and return home from Bath on Saturday night are being reminded that the GWR 22:45 service from Bath towards London, used by people returning to Chippenham and Swindon, will not be running. The last London train is at 22:10 and people are reminded there are a reduced number of spaces on trains due to social distancing measures so please plan your journey in advance.

Councillor Dine Romero, leader of Bath & North East Somerset Council, said: “We are treading a very fine line between the need to see our pubs, restaurants and cafes reopen to help the economy while remembering we are still in the middle of a pandemic and that Covid-19 has not gone away. We don’t want to see a local lockdown like the one happening in Leicester and that means each of us playing our part to avoid its spread.

“Officers from our Public Protection Service team will be visiting premises on Saturday morning and evening to provide guidance and support to businesses as well as to monitor the reopening.

“If you are out in Bath remember there may not be as much capacity in a pub or on public transport if you are travelling on a bus or a train. Plan ahead and if a pub looks full go and find another one where you can safely social distance.”

Superintendent Mark Edgington said: “Pubs may be reopening but it’s important everyone remembers the public health crisis is definitely not over.

“COVID-19 still presents a significant and deadly threat and everyone needs to take personal responsibility to slow down the spread of the virus and ultimately defeat it.

“We’re fully expecting this weekend to see an increase in demand for our services in comparison to recent weeks but we’d like to reassure our communities we’ve tried and tested plans for policing the night-time economy and these will be in place across our force area.

“Please, if you arrive somewhere and establish that social distancing isn’t achievable, reassess your plans and don’t put yourself and others at risk. And please also be aware of how excess drinking and violent behaviour may impact the emergency services at this time.”

Allison Herbert, chief executive of Bath BID, added: This is an important moment for our business community, after this long period of emptiness, the city will be animated by old friends and happy people.  We hope everyone will have a great evening, will return safely to their favourite pub or restaurant and enjoy the city.  This opening night has been well prepared for but will need the support of the public to be a success, so please be kind and patient.  Not all of our city-centre businesses are open this weekend, we recommend that you check before coming out to avoid disappointment.”