Message from Councillor Ian Courts, Leader of Solihull Council, 9 June 2020

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

From next Monday, if you use public transport or visit a hospital, you’ll need to wear a face covering. And if you can, you should also wear a face covering in any enclosed space where social distancing is not possible, particularly where you will come into contact with people you do not normally meet. This will be to cover the short periods you might spend indoors, in shops or in crowds in town centres, as more of our retailers begin to re-open from 15 June.

Be prepared to remove your face covering if asked by a police officer or a member of staff, for the purposes of identification.

If you have to or want to wear a covering you can make them at home, as my wife and I did, using scarves or other textile items and there is some guidance here to help illustrate the process. But please don’t buy medical or surgical masks, as these should be reserved for health and social care workers.

Last Monday, some of our primary and special schools welcomed back more pupils and the feedback from their first week back has been really positive. As we expected, the remaining schools have followed suit this week, with all primary and special schools now open to all eligible age groups, as well as to vulnerable children and those of key workers. Our secondary schools are still planning to open for years 10 and 12 from next Monday 15 June. We will keep the position regarding the R-rate for the region under careful review and have issued guidance to all Solihull schools on what they should do in the event of a suspected or confirmed case. Safety remains our very clear priority.

The opening of places of worship for private prayer has been welcomed by Christians, although for some other faiths this new measure is less appropriate as their religion calls for communal or congregational prayer. Hopefully, as the test and trace system gets into its stride, tightly managed and socially distanced worship maybe possible.

As we move towards more public spaces opening up, we must not lose sight of the need to continue to social distance, to continue to wash hands and now to think about when and where we should be wearing a face covering.

Maintaining social distancing, taking the right steps to get tested if we get symptoms and self-isolating if we are advised to do so, will be key to getting on top of Covid-19 and returning to normal.

Finally we find ourselves in two ‘weeks’ that are close to my heart. It is Carers Week and Bike Week, not related as such, but both worthy of note. 

Carers are sometimes unsung heroes, looking after partners, children or even mums and dads. During the lockdown they will have continued to provide unpaid care, but in some cases, without the usual external support they have enjoyed in the past. Find out more about this important week of recognition here.

As someone returning to the saddle, I can’t claim to be a longstanding enthusiast, but I have realised how much fun cycling can be during lockdown. I hope to continue to take to the bike as often as possible in the future, especially as we create more safe cycling routes in the borough. More information on Bike Week can be found here.

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

Please take care.