Heritage attractions, indoor hospitality businesses and more council services are set to reopen across Medway from Monday, 17 May.
Prime Minister Boris Johnson set out the latest steps on the government’s roadmap to recovery earlier today (Monday, 10 May).
We have 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.
From Monday, 17 May, indoor hospitality businesses and heritage attractions across Medway will be able to welcome visitors back once again. Rochester Castle and The Guildhall Museum and the Visitor Information Centre in Rochester will all be reopening on Tuesday, 18 May.
We are currently developing an exciting alternative, flexible and COVID-19 safe festival and events programme for the summer.
The innovative events programme, which aims to appeal to residents of all ages, will demonstrate Medway’s strong cultural offer and the resilience the area has shown during the pandemic. The programme will also shine a light on Medway’s creative spirit as it prepares to bid for UK City of Culture 2025. Becoming UK City of Culture 2025 would create a legacy of opportunities for local people and bring significant economic benefits to the area.
As government restrictions on mass gatherings and social distancing remain in place, until at least late June, and as it is not yet known what restrictions will be in place over the summer, we have taken the difficult decision not to hold its usual summer festivals and events programme, including the Summer Rochester Dickens Festival in June.
More information about the new events programme will be issued in due course but a number of fantastic events have already been announced including Estuary 2021 which will come to Medway between Saturday, 22 May and Sunday, 13 June.
British contemporary artist, writer, author, musician, art education advocate and keynote speaker, Patrick Brill OBE RA, better known as Bob and Roberta Smith, will create a pavilion on Chatham waterfront, near the community hub, where residents will be invited to make their mark and draw directly onto the walls of the structure which will gradually develop and become a portrait of Medway, focussing on how we retain hope and love during major events such as the pandemic and climate change, which have such global and personal resonance.
We will also launch a virtual exhibition to celebrate the 125th anniversary of The Strand as part of Estuary 21. Fond memories and images from residents will be used to create the exhibition. Find out more.
The festival also supports Medway’s aspirations to become UK City of Culture in 2025.
The most unique gaming festival the UK has ever seen, Medway Rapture Gaming and Creative Festival, is due to be held at the Historic Dockyard Chatham on Saturday, 3 and Sunday, 4 July. The weekend family-fun festival, which is being supported by a multitude of incredible show stakeholders, will have something for everyone – from gaming pros to novices. There will be plenty of gaming fun and interactive exhibitions for people of all ages to get involved in, including children, families and students.
The dockyard is a fantastic location for the festival, with vast open halls at the Slips and the Smithery Courtyard, along with all of the buildings that will be used, enable the festival to put on large features while easily socially distancing with constant fresh air, just as if it was an outside event. The festival also supports our ambition to become a Child-Friendly City, putting children and young people at the heart of everything it does.
We welcome the Prime Minister's latest announcement
Leader of Medway Council, Cllr Alan Jarrett, said: “We welcome the Prime Minister’s latest announcement and I am pleased that we will be open to reopen more of our facilities, including our heritage attractions, for visitors and families to enjoy once again. We’re planning for a fantastic summer in Medway with a brand-new events programme which will highlight Medway’s strong cultural offer, despite the challenges the coronavirus pandemic brings. There will be something for everyone to enjoy, including our youngest residents. We look forward to bringing you more details about the programme, which supports Medway’s ambition to become UK City of Culture 2025 as well as Medway’s aspirations to become a Child-Friendly City, in due course. We understand that our decision not to hold our usual much-loved events this summer will be disappointing news but the health and wellbeing of our residents, visitors and staff is of the highest importance.
“We are all looking forward to an exciting summer and getting back to doing the things we love, when restrictions allow. There are plenty of things to see and enjoy in Medway and I would encourage residents to enjoy exploring their local area once again. However, it remains vital that we all play our part in the fight against coronavirus and continue to follow social distancing guidelines to help protect ourselves, and our loved ones. I would also encourage residents to continue to regularly get tested for coronavirus to ensure they are not unknowingly spreading the disease.”
Updates to Medway’s services
Rochester Castle, The Guildhall Museum and The Visitor Information Centre (VIC), including Rochester Art Gallery, in Rochester High Street will reopen on Tuesday, 18 May.
Pattern and Beyond, an exhibition showcasing works from students BA Fashion Textiles, MA Printed Textiles for Fashion and Interior courses at UCA Rochester, will be on display at Rochester Art Gallery.
Rochester Castle will be open for visitors between 10am and 5pm Tuesday to Sunday and the VIC and Guildhall Museum will be open from 10am to 5pm Tuesday to Saturday.
A number of measures will be in place to help protect staff and customers including limiting the number of visitors at a time.
Upnor Castle, Eastgate House in Rochester, Temple Manor in Strood and the Brook Pumping Station in Chatham will remain closed until further notice.
Medway Council’s sports centres will offer more than 90 classes from Monday, 17 May such as fitness and aqua classes. Residents will also be able to play racket sports, such as badminton, table tennis and squash, with members of another household, in line with government advice.
Outdoor fitness classes will continue to be held at Hoo and Strood Sports Centres and Medway Park in Gillingham, weather permitting. A wide range of classes are available including spin, Pilates, kick boxing, skip fit, bootcamp, kettlebells and aerobics.
Strood Soccer Centre and club track sessions at Medway Park resumed on Monday, 29 March.
All sports sessions must be booked online in advance.
Medway Youth Service is continuing to offer a number of online and face-to-face activities for young people age 11 and above including music, creative writing, Minecraft and art sessions. Find out more. Young people can register their interest in face to face sessions.
The Brook Theatre in Chatham will reopen for professional rehearsals and all classes from Monday, 17 May.
The Box Office at The Brook Theatre will also reopen for customers wishing to book or collect tickets for upcoming shows. Residents can also book tickets online or by calling 01634 338338.
The Central Theatre in Chatham will reopen for professional rehearsals from Monday, 17 May.
NHS Test and trace
Visitors to council buildings will be asked to check in using the NHS COVID-19 app or 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, to help stop the spread of coronavirus and save lives.