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2 July - Message from Councillor Ian Courts, Leader of Solihull Council

Stay alert, control the virus, save lives – and keep social distancing

The next few days will see yet more steps on our road to recovery. Tentative they may be, but we are gradually unravelling the lockdown in a managed way, bringing more shops and businesses back to life.  I hope the weekend shows we can get back to eating and drinking in our bars and restaurants in a safe and responsible manner.

4 July is already being called ‘Super Saturday’ in the media, but, please, please, it’s not an excuse for a return to a ‘traditional’ Saturday night out. As Leicester has shown, we still need to be cautious and alert to the virus.  People will have to manage their expectations.  Our pubs and restaurants will not be as we knew them.

While many of us are enjoying more freedoms, those that are shielding, because of their medical condition, are still being encouraged to stay at home.

For now, the guidance remains the same - stay at home and only go outside to exercise or to spend time outdoors with a member of your household, or with one other person from another household if you live alone.   The guidance will change from Monday 6 July and you will be able to meet in groups of up to six people from outside your household, outdoors with social distancing.

Alongside all this, we will continue to make wellbeing calls, check on people and make sure they’re getting medicine deliveries.  The government will continue to provide free food and household essentials boxes until the end of July.

Full national and local information can be found here

I’ve mentioned before that we wanted you to return your library books and now you can start ordering new ones.  From Monday 6 July, staff from Solihull Library Service will start issuing books through a new ‘Click and Collect’ scheme at The Core.  Forms are available online for people to select books that they can then collect from Monday onwards.

A similar scheme will be available at Chelmsley Wood Library and Shirley Library from 20 July onwards. You can select books to collect from these libraries from Monday 13 July.

The service will be available in 30 minutes slots with users submitting requests for books via an online booking system on the Library Service web pages. Anyone who can’t use the online form can place an order by phoning 0121 704 8001. The Home Library Service will also restart on 6 July.  Further details can be found here.

Something else that I’m sure parents will welcome is the re-opening of our playgrounds and outdoor gym equipment from Monday 6 July We will be following the national guidance and currently staff are inspecting all equipment to ensure it is safe and clean.

I expect there will be lots of very excited children who have been waiting patiently for months, but please remember to observe social distancing when using them. We will be asking you to use hand sanitiser before using the equipment, not to eat food in the play areas, to use the bins proved and if possible wipe equipment down after use. Aside from being unsightly and unpleasant for other users, rubbish can spread the virus.

#ThankYouTogether On Sunday 5 July at 5pm we can all take part in the biggest, loudest and final clap for carers and key workers. Afterwards, people will be encouraged to stay outside to show their thanks/appreciation to their neighbours or reach out to someone who is lonely, isolated or shielding, to let them know they are supported.  On the evening of the 4 July, you can also put a light in your window (if using candles please be careful!) in a moment of remembrance.  This was suggested by together, a new coalition that aims to build a kinder, closer and more connected society in the aftermath of Covid-19.

As we take steps on the road to recovery, let’s not forget those that have helped us through the lockdown.

And on the same theme, my thanks to the parks team, who have created a floral tribute and “thank you” to keyworkers in Malvern Park.  It links to our Rainbow of Hope (Malvern Gates) and Tree of Hope competition the Love Solihull team have been running.

The ‘Positivity Rocks’ were started by the St Alphege School Federation, although people from across the borough joined in with some from Wythall and Balsall Common as well, and have been placed around the rainbow for everyone to see and enjoy.

When they were installed passers-by commented that they had brought a smile to their faces during lockdown and that it was lovely to see the artistic talents of local children.

I know Malvern Park, and all of our parks and open spaces, have been a lifeline for many people’s health and wellbeing during this time.  I hope they continue to offer a place to unwind and relax, and that more of you come to appreciate them too.

Take care. I wish you all good Health, Happiness and Harmony

Councillor Ian Courts, Leader of Solihull Council, 2 July 2020

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