In his latest message to residents Cllr Alan Jarrett discusses symptom-free testing, the reopening of Medway’s high streets, The Rainbow Effect and the government’s roadmap to recovery.
I hope this message finds you well.
I want to start this message by mentioning the sad passing of His Royal Highness The Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh at the age of 99. He was the longest ever serving Royal Consort, and became part of Royal public life for over 70 years. He was a man of immense courage and good humour, and of course always demonstrated tremendous loyalty in support of Her Majesty The Queen. No doubt many of us would have watched the funeral service last Saturday, and could not fail to have been moved by the sight of Her Majesty The Queen sitting alone because of covid in the chapel during the service. Our hearts go out to Her Majesty and we wish her good health and a long reign.
Since my last message, we have taken the next step on the government’s road map to recovery with non-essential retail businesses reopening and hospitality businesses welcoming customers back outdoors, such as in pub gardens, last week. I am delighted to see life returning to our high streets and wanted to say a big welcome back to all our local businesses who have had to remain closed for so long. It’s been tough, I know, and it was great to see people enjoying a drink and meal outside despite the chilly temperatures over the last few days. We are asking residents to shop, eat and visit locally where they can, to support our local businesses who are vital to the health of our local economy. They’ve seen us through good times and bad and now it’s our turn to support them.
And, of course, it’s still important that we continue to do so safely. We must continue to follow social distancing guidelines, and wear face coverings, where appropriate, when visiting our local high streets and town centres. Shops and hospitality businesses across Medway will also have their own safety measures in place to protect both customers and staff.
Although the rate of infection in Medway remains below the national average, this deadly virus is still being spread in our local community. Please ensure that you get tested twice a week to protect yourselves, and your loved ones. Even if you’ve had one or both of your vaccinations, it’s still possible to catch and transmit the virus, so please don’t let down your guard.
It has never been easier to get tested. There are a number of ways you can access symptom-free coronavirus testing including visiting one of our test centres, collecting home testing kits from designated sites and ordering them directly to your home.
We were especially pleased to welcome residents back to our sports centres and libraries. We were delighted to welcome 8,900 customers to Stood and Hoo sports centres and Medway Park. Having been cooped up for much of the winter, you might like to take advantage of the excellent facilities we have on offer. Whether it’s for a gentle swim, an exercise class in the great outdoors or a session in our gyms, there’s something for everyone and plenty of help and advice on hand too. Find out more and book your session.
Although we cannot run events at the moment, I do hope you’ve had the chance to take a look at and enjoy the fantastic public art installations in more than 30 different locations across Medway which are part of our pioneering Rainbow Effect project. The works include massive murals on the side of public buildings, statues and stencil art thanking our key workers. There is also an excellent video online if you prefer to enjoy the exhibition from the safety of your home instead.
I’m sure, like me, you are all eagerly awaiting the next government announcements on step three and four of the government’s roadmap to recovery. Until then, we must be patient and if we all continue to play our part in the fight against coronavirus, we will get closer to a future which is more familiar. It was encouraging to see the return of spectators to some sports events last weekend.
It’s very important to continue to look to the future and I would like to thank everyone who has taken part in Census 2021. The survey, which is managed and run by the Office for National Statistics, and the information residents provide helps decide how services are planned for and funded in Medway. If you haven’t already completed your Census online, I would encourage you to do so, so you help shape Medway’s future. If you, or someone you know, needs help completing the online form, residents can call 01634 337799 during our normal library opening hours.
Stay safe and continue to follow the government guidelines - hands, face, space, fresh air.
Cllr Alan Jarrett
Leader of Medway Council