Heritage, hospitality and more council services are set to reopen across Medway from Saturday, 4 July.
Prime Minister Boris Johnson set out further changes to lockdown measures when he spoke in The Commons on 23 June.
Medway Council has continued to deliver vital services to residents throughout the pandemic and has also been able to offer some services in different ways, such as online, while restrictions were in place.
The council has been working on plans to be able to safely reopen more of its services throughout July, in line with government guidelines and including social distancing measures.
The priority remains the safety of the public, as well as staff, and there will be a phased reopening of council heritage attractions and libraries, with reduced hours. The council will also be reopening its play parks and outdoor gyms, and wedding ceremonies and markets will also resume.
NHS Test and trace
Visitors to council attractions across Medway will be asked to supply their name, email, phone number and postcode. These details will be kept for 21 days and will be handed to the National Test and Trace system if needed, as part of the government’s response to stop the spread of coronavirus and save lives.
We have planned a phased reopening of our heritage attractions to enable new social distancing measures to be put in place to help protect staff and customers. New measures include limiting the number of visitors at a time and accepting card payments only. The opening hours have also been reduced and visitors are asked to check the new measures before arriving by visiting medway.gov.uk
- Rochester Castle - Saturday, 4 July
- Guildhall Museum - Tuesday, 7 July
- Visitor Information Centre (including Rochester Art Gallery) – Tuesday, 7 July
- Upnor Castle, Eastgate House, Temple Manor and Brook Pumping Station – will remain closed until further notice.
Libraries and community hubs
There will be a phased reopening of libraries and community hubs. Our community hubs will be open from Monday, 6 July for book returns, and you will also be able to collect reusable recycling bags, only. Books will be returned into boxes at the front door of the community hubs, with staff behind perspex screens. Books will then go into quarantine for 72 hours before being able to be reserved. Books will remain on a customer’s account during quarantine but no fines will be incurred.
From Monday, 13 July a new Click & Collect service will launch. Customers will be able to reserve books for collection at the reopened community hubs.
Other hub and library services will gradually reopen when it is safe to do so. The family and adults activity sessions will remain cancelled until further notice and daily parking vouchers can be purchased by contacting the Parking Services Team on 01634 332266.
- Community hubs: Gillingham, Chatham, Rochester, Strood and Twydall – Monday, 6 July. Wigmore will open on Tuesday, 7 July.
- Libraries: Cuxton, Grain, Hempstead, Hoo, Lordswood, Luton, Rainham, Walderslade Hook Meadow and Walderslade – will remain closed until further notice.
Parks and green spaces
Children’s play equipment and outdoor gyms in Medway’s parks and green spaces will be reopened in line with the easing of government restrictions, but residents are asked to take extra measures if they are using these facilities. Please do not eat or drink within the play area and use hand sanitiser to clean children’s hands before and after play. For the safety of everyone using the gym equipment, please also use hand sanitiser before and after use.
- All children’s play equipment in council parks – From Saturday, 4 July (except Rainham Rec, which is currently closed for refurbishment)
- All council outdoor gyms in council parks and green spaces – Saturday, 4 July
Marriages and civil partnerships will resume at Medway Register Office, from Saturday, 4 July, with a maximum of 30 people in attendance. There will be a number of social distancing and hygiene measures in place in order to make this possible.
We have been working on plans to be able to safely reopen our markets, in line with government advice. The health and wellbeing of our residents and the market traders is our top priority and council staff have worked with stall holders to put appropriate social distancing measures in place. Stalls will be spread throughout Gillingham high street and customers are asked to queue responsibly. Rochester Farmers Market, in Blue Boar Lane car park, will also have a one-way pedestrian system in place.
- Gillingham Market – Monday, 6 July and Saturday, 11 July (every Monday and Saturday)
- Rochester Farmers Market – Sunday, 19 July (third Sunday of every month)
I would ask everyone to be patient as we adjust to a new way of life
Leader of Medway Council, Cllr Alan Jarrett, said: “I am pleased we are able reopen our doors to more of our services and facilities, giving residents more choice of things to do outdoors over the summer months.
“Medway is steeped in history, with a number of heritage attractions for the family to enjoy. Medway also has more than 100 parks and green spaces, giving residents plenty of choice for places to visit. We also have a number of library hubs which are based in the heart of communities and provide much joy to children and adults, due to the large range of books and resources available to borrow.
“Our facilities and services will be gradually reopened to allow us to put new social distancing measures in place to help protect our staff as well as the public. It’s possible that residents may have to queue to access some of our sites and venues due to the new measures, and I would ask everyone to be patient while we all adjust to a new way of life.
“It also remains important that we all play our part to protect lives and stop the spread of the virus in Medway.”