Councillor Ian Courts, Leader of Solihull Council, 11 June 2020

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

Latest official figures show that there are now over 4,500 children attending schools across the borough this week, as our primary and special schools welcomed more pupils back.

I would like to thank all our head teachers and their staff for all their planning and hard work – this has more than quadrupled the numbers attending since the Whitsun break. We are working very hard to ensure that as many vulnerable children, especially those with Special Educational Needs and Disabilities, are able to attend and hope to see this number increase in the coming weeks.

Secondary schools will also start having face-to-face contact with pupils in year 10 and year 12 from next week. They have been busy putting their plans in place, to enable this to take place safely and I hope that when it happens, the experience will be as positive as that which we have seen from our primary schools over the last two weeks.

On Monday, we reach another welcome milestone in our cautious journey out of lockdown, as our shops re-open. But we need to manage our expectations of our town centres as they will not be the same as you remember them. 

The virus is still amongst us. The number of people infected might be reducing, but there is still a risk of spreading the virus. The majority of people across the country have not had Covid-19, and so remain at risk. Managing this crisis is all about managing risk. Social distancing is crucial to stopping the virus spreading, and the more people you have contact with, the more you risk being exposed to the virus.

You should not be in groups of more than six people and even then, you must keep a two metre distance to stay safe. If you have had contact with someone who then tests positive, you will need to self-isolate for two weeks. If you have any symptoms, do not leave home unless it’s to get tested. The NHS Test and Trace service can then contact those who test positive and identify anyone who has come into contact with them, and ask them to self-isolate, so that we can stop the spread of the virus.

If you need to visit Solihull, Knowle, Shirley or Chelmsley Wood Shopping Centre, do be prepared for enforced social distancing and inevitable queuing. It would help if you shop alone or as with as few people from your household as possible, and please be considerate to shop keepers and assistants as the social distancing rules will mean shopping may take longer!

The Council has been working with Solihull BID and retailers across the borough to offer support and guidance to help them open safely. We’ve pulled a lot of information together and like Solihull BID we’ve got a store tracker (, so people can see which shops are open in our centres. We have installed temporary road traffic measures in some centres to allow social distancing and promote cycling. And our car parks are still free.

I’m also keen to promote to our local businesses the Greater Birmingham and Solihull Local Enterprise Partnership’s (GBSLEP) Step Forward campaign. This is designed to aid businesses in response to Covid-19. It encourages business owners to step forward to access support via the GBSLEP Growth Hub, to help them adapt to changing circumstances, improve their resilience and increase future growth potential. More information on

On Monday we will also mark World Elder Abuse Awareness Day. Each year Solihull Safeguarding Adults Board (SSAB) works with Age UK Solihull to raise awareness of adult abuse. It is estimated that around 1 million older people suffer abuse each year in the UK. 

With the current lockdown due to Covid-19, the issue is probably worse, and many vulnerable people, who would normally have a support network around them, are not being protected from abuse such as scams. You can report adult abuse via the Council website ( or you can ring 0121 704 8007. If it’s an emergency, ring the police on 999. You can show your support by wearing purple on Monday, the colour of dignity!

From Monday 15 June we’ll be allowing more people to attend funerals and will have extended cemetery opening times. These new measures are being taken after careful monitoring and in line with government guidance. From Monday we will be allowing 20 people at a graveside burial and the number of people allowed at cremations will increase from 10 to 14. The number of mourners allowed at cremations is less, as the services are held inside and the chapel has to be sanitised between each service.

New opening hours at cemeteries will also come into effect on Monday, which will see Widney Manor open weekdays from 9am-6pm and weekday evening openings (4pm-6pm) will begin at Robin Hood and Woodlands cemeteries.

Please remember we have had to introduce restrictions to keep both mourners and our staff safe. It is still important that you continue to observe social distancing and hand-washing guidance.

Stay alert, help control the virus, save lives – we don’t want a second spike!

Please take care